AND VISHANNA PHAGOO
SOUTHEX Trade Shows and Promotions is hosting an agriculture and food expo from August 3-7 at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba, San Fernando. The expo's theme is Our Life, Our Business.
CEO of Southex George Singh has partnered with the Trinidad and Tobago and Georgetown Chambers of Industry and Commerce, as well as the Supermarket Association of TT (SATT) to make the expo a reality.
At the expos's media launch at the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Westmoorings, on Wednesday, Singh said the idea was to expand business in the agricultural sector and reduce the cost of imports.
"With the cost of food products going up each day and the continued lack of raw material threatening to send those prices even higher, it is my sincere hope that the coming together of the powerful organisations that will be represented at the expo will find solutions to some of these problems."
The expo will also showcase aspects of the agricultural industry as well as its contributions to continued development on the national, regional and world stages.
Chamber president Charles Pashley said the expo would send a signal that TT has entered the "post-covid19 phase."
He added: "A March 2022 blog by the Ministry of Trade and Industry notes that TT’s food import bill is over $5 billion annually, while the region reportedly imports around US$6 billion each year. Further, a study undertaken by Caricom identified that some 40 per cent (or 2.8 million people) in the English-speaking Caribbean are food-insecure."
President of SATT Rajiv Diptee agreed, saying the expo could be a gateway into import substitution and even earning more foreign exchange.
"What we are seeing now is the cost of fuel, containers, shipping and foods we fetch from foreign principals has gotten to almost an inflection point in crisis levels. Which is why we are looking within the region like Guyana (and) our neighbouring islands as potential avenues for agriculture."
Pashley said TT could then start manufacturing with the help of local workers in Guyana before taking similar strategies to the other Caricom islands.
"TT is well-placed to offer technical expertise to Guyana’s burgeoning energy industry, thereby keeping the wealth generated in the region to professionals from the region."
He said technology would also be incorporated into this agricultural business avenue as he recalled the chamber's Champions of Business Awards finalist in the entrepreneurial category, Novo Farms.
Pashley said the agri-tech start-up business developed a way, using technology, to replicate climatic temperatures to grow foreign produce. As the company progressed, it was able to monitor crop data analytics, which involves tracking supply and anticipating future supply.
Aside from trying to solve food-security issues, Singh said he wanted everyone to feel welcome at the expo while learning, so the five-day event will include a petting zoo, farmer's market, large agri-demo areas and other entertainment booths.