Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 3rd 2015 Contents 12 UWI TODAY -- SUNDAY 3rd may, 2015
In faraway days, when the Imperial College of Tropical
Agriculture was the place the world's academics ocked to
for training and research, ICTA was a sizeable landowner.
The College had 860 acres, spread over Mt Hope, River
Estate in Diego Martin and Santa Cruz by 1960.
But after the Agricultural College gave way to the
St. Augustine Campus of The UWI, it began to lose its
acreage. River Estate went to housing, and a signi cant
proportion at Mt Hope was given over to the Eric Williams
Medical Sciences Complex, which also houses the Faculty
of Medical Sciences. The 100 acres that supported the
University Field Station was trimmed to facilitate the
Uriah Butler Highway.
A lot of land had been lost, and the State o ered to
In the late eighties, 200 acres of land at Orange Grove
in Trincity was promised, and nearly three decades later,
tangible results are about to be seen.
Within the next few years, Orange Grove will be
the site of an Agricultural Innovation Park that will be
known as The UWI's east campus. The AIP, one of a kind
in the region, will occupy all of the 200 acres provided by
the State, and it will feature a wide range of agricultural
concepts and activities that will stimulate both insiders
How it came about is an interesting story.
For some time, the Faculty of Food and Agriculture
(FFA) had quietly been making its wish list but found it
challenging to nd resources to actualize it. Managing
the 200 acres as farming land had been quite a stretch
due to limited resources to support the development.
However, as the Campus sought external partnership
for the development of AIP, the Faculty has focused on
transforming the Orange Grove eld into a productive
farm land primarily to support training of students and
research while utilizing revenue generated to o set cost
and acquire new technology.
"Growing crops on 200 acres needs to be done with
caution since it can a ect the livelihood of small holder
farmers. As the farm further develops through acquisition
of value addition technologies, it will start making seeds
of certain crops available to farmers for planting ensuring
more symbiotic relationship in pursuit of advancement of
food security objectives of the country and the CARICOM,"
says Dr. Isaac Bekele, Dean of the FFA.
Students have also been going there to do practical
research and to get hands-on experience. It has been
key as a teaching support and a site for experimentation
Currently an experiment evaluating various irrigation
technologies is being undertaken in collaboration with
Dr. Dave Goorahoo, a visiting professor from the Center
for Irrigation Technology (CIT), California State University,
Dr Govind Seepersad, Deputy Dean of the FFA, tells
of the concept of 'precision agriculture' which will be
evaluated by an interdisciplinary team. The precision
comes from the use of remote sensing and drone
technology, exciting innovations in the eld that allows
for optimal use of land and ideal observation in order to
ne-0tune crop management.
Corn being prepared for planting at Orange Grove in Trincity
It is on 200 acres, just north of the Piarco International Airport
and it is irrigated by three individual water systems: east, west
and middle of the site. It doesn't look like much more than
grass and trees these days, but when it is nished, it will be a
fascinating addition to the Caribbean landscape as the rst
agricultural innovation park in these parts.
This is the main component of the UWI-CAU Agricultural
Innovation Park (AIP), a joint project of The UWI and China
Agricultural University, which is currently being constructed
at Orange Grove in Trincity. According to the design, The East
Campus site is to be divided into seven areas, technology
service (Region 1); aquatic production; leisure and recreation;
commercial, mini zoo and the two largest allocations, crop (45
acres) and horticulture (60 acres).
While some of the teaching and learning will take place
on the 15 acres allocated to
Region 1 which will house the main building, a video
conference facility; a library; multi-function labs and
classrooms, most of the space enables an outdoor, practical
The 45 acres for crops will support production and
demonstrations for root vegetables, corn, pumpkin, etc, and
a plant museum. Similar use will be made of the 60 acres for
horticulture which is allocated for greenhouse production.
The leisure and recreation areas (science popularization
Zone) earmarked for 35 acres will be the spaces where most
of you, the public visitors, will become most familiar with, as
you walk through avenues and gardens lit with solar lamps or
wind energy ones, or enter a photovoltaic building that is the
tourist centre on your way to check out the mini zoo, or the
duck pool or even the cocoa museum. In this contemporary
mix of the rustic and the urbane, you will nd that man and
nature can cohabit in peace, if only humans would cherish
and respect nature's gifts.
In the late eighties, 200 acres of land at Orange Grove in Trincity was pr
Grove will be the site of an Agricultural Innovation Park that will be know
State, and it will feature a wide range of agricultural concepts and activitie
BY VANEISA BAKSH
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