A new Government initiative has been launched to encourage agro-entrepreneurship in non traditional areas. Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj has announced that 20 families will be selected for the pilot phase of small scale aquaponics project. He said the aim was to encourage vegetables and fish production in small, back yard facilities.
Maharaj made the annoncement when he handed over the first aquaponic unit to the Rotary Club of St Augustine. The event took place at Valsayn South where a training facility is to be established. He said it was the first time his ministry was partnering with an NGO for that type of project like this. The club will select people for the project and supply them with the units. The minister said the system was organic and was intended to yield short term crops.
“It is hoped that these programmes will play a crucial role in reducing crime in at-risk urban communities by empowering citizens with an opportunity to not only be self sufficient but also engage in entrepreneurial activities rather than turn to a life of crime to earn money,” he said.
Maharaj said aquaponics had been in T&T for the past two decades there had not been the political will to promote that type of food production. He said the system is cheap and uses PVC pipes to grow plants such as herbs, lettuce and cabbages and fish like tilapia. According to the minister, T&T’s agriculture sector expanded by 5.1 per cent this year from the previous year and the contribution of the sector to GDP hasincreased by 77 per cent since 2009.