TECHNOLOGICAL advancement and innovation in agriculture along with the active involvement of youth in the sector, were among the many features observed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who along with a team of officers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF) - toured a series of agricultural and dairy farms in South Trinidad on Monday.
According to a release, the tours were to the PCS Model Farm and Agricultural Resource Centre in Couva; High Quality Seedlings and Garden Shop as well as the Marillisa Farm in Penal, were jointly led by Rowley, the Ministry’s Parliamentary Secretary and Senator Avinash Singh.
Lincoln Thackorie, proprietor of the Marillisa Farm in Penal, home to the largest and most advanced small ruminant (sheep and goat) farm in the English Speaking Caribbean, co-ordinated the team’s final leg of a seven hour tour, which began at PCS Model Farm and Agricultural Resource Centre (PCS Farm) in Couva.
The PCS Farm, has had over 7000 training participants (ranging from an average age of 13 to 60) and over 3000 visitors (inclusive of secondary and
tertiary students) since its inception in 2009.According to Ian Welch, Managing Director of Trinidad Nutrien __ the mother company of PCS Nitrogen Trinidad Limited, under whose remit the PCS Farm falls __ the purpose of the free training programmes was to make agriculture “attractive” and, “to bring farming back to the communities” through “the education process”.
“It’s all about transmitting our resources and ‘know-how to the farming community of Trinidad and Tobago so that more persons can be encouraged to farm and thus, curtail our food imports.” As a perfect example of synthesis between agriculture and technology, the team’s tour of the facilities at High Quality Seedlings and Garden Shop in Penal, enabled members to witness firsthand, the concept of substituting “working hard” with “working smart”.
By operationalizing an automated: soil mixer; seedling-tray filler and; “precision needle seeder”, Managing Director of the shop, Shantie Soogrim explained that “more than four thousand (4,000) seedling trays can be set per day”, a task which may have otherwise required a staff of some 33 employees to perform.
Soogrim, who prided herself as an innovative pioneer in the agricultural realm, also demonstrated a mechanical, “high-powered hot water sterilizer treatment”, which she said, made the use of harmful, chemical seedling tray cleaners, obsolete.