Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 30th 2017 Contents BG18 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MARCH 30 • 2017
The population of T&T re-
mains generally optimistic
as the Government seeks to
evenly share the burden of
adjustment in the current
and anticipated economic cir-
cumstances facing our country. This is without
denying the fact that the cost of living, un-
employment and economic hardship is on the
rise hence the necessity for all of us to do more
towards preserving food and nutrition security
at the household level and for policymakers to
act aggressively to stabilise sentiment.
At the household level, one can discuss du-
bious consumer confidence in the quality of
some foods offered for sale, whether import-
ed or produced and processed locally or even
question the impact of our food choices on
the natural environment.
Put together with family recreation, en-
vironmental protection, and efforts toward
greater sustainability of the local food in-
dustry; opportunity exists for creative and
innovative ways to get greater local content
into the national diet. It requires that we move
past traditional approaches if we expect dif-
Rather than contemplating food as a finan-
cial burden, concerted effort must be put into
encouraging food production at home and in
public spaces, however small, which brings the
greatest return within our environment -- both
economic and ecological.
This must be supported by a greater broad-
cast of home gardening courses, seeds and
seedling availability, and other forms of pub-
lic awareness, education, and engagement by
related Ministries and Agencies. It also opens
opportunity for private intervention in the pro-
vision and dissemination of goods and services
to this end.
For example, according to UN Comtrade sta-
tistics, between 2013-2015 T&T would have
imported over $115 million or 33, 461 tonnes
in some peas and beans (dried forms) alone.
HS 071310 Peas: US$ 7, 674, 000
HS 071320 Chickpeas: US$ 7, 557, 000
HS 071333 Kidney beans: US$ 4, 763, 000
HS 071340 Lentils: US$ 3, 945, 000
Within a home-gardening scenario, several
peas and beans have proven to be successful.
Expanded local production of these can bring
about greater local biological diversity while
allowing consumers to retain their tastes and
preferences through creative import substi-
Acknowledging that further feasibility stud-
ies are needed, it remains a fact that a large
percentage of the T&T diet is dedicated to
legumes or pulses.
We must encourage greater local content to
preserve food and nutrition security so that
healthy and affordable food is available to the
population at all times.
However, the overall strategy to be adopted
must not merely be directed at ensuring food
security for all, but must also achieve the con-
sumption of adequate quantities of safe and
good quality foods that together make up a
Empirical evidence as revealed by the Min-
istries of Health and Education over the years
suggest that, among other lifestyle diseases,
there was an increase in obesity and dietary
risk within the school-age population thereby
impacting their future productivity and the
cost of healthcare to our nation.
Together with my daughters, we've set out
on a new home gardening project. It not only
strengthens my thoughts on the general shift of
the family diet but supports their understand-
ing of upcycling, homesteading and starting
conversations and friendships around com-
munity and urban agriculture on our street.
On a phased basis, growing your own fruits
and vegetables helps to reduce carbon emis-
sions by limiting travelling to supermarkets
and stores, reduce chemical inputs in food
production and its release in the natural en-
vironment as well as reduce food miles, among
many other considerations.
Home gardening allows us to know where our
food comes from, how it was produced, and to
appreciate the circumstances of the men and
women who feed our country.
Upcycling is a great way to reuse materials
and reduce our footprint. At no cost, we ob-
tained tires left at the roadside. From a creative
idea suggested by a farmer friend at Superior
Farms, we decided to use the discarded ma-
terial as plant pots given the aridity and poor
soil quality in our yard.
Empirical evidence and an understanding
of the local food industry suggest that over
recent years, less and less people got involved
in the food production sector as farmers. Few-
er households were also getting involved be-
cause of a buoyant economy and other lifestyle
Home gardening should not only be consid-
ered if needed to plug any food and nutrition
insecurity but as a necessity.
How can you be part of a movement to
positively impact our country and your own
livelihood in 2017?
• Acquire basic planting tools.
• Recruit relatives, friends and neighbours
to share in your success before it happens.
• Prepare yard space for the tires. If neither
is available, use appropriate containers.
• Start with the soil. Ensure it is loose; add
compost, manure or organic matter. We mixed
dirt, manure from small ruminants and peat
moss from a hydroponic system after har-
• Make sure you plant in a sunny area, es-
pecially for vegetables, as they need 6-8 hours
• Water thoroughly, except when it rains.
Here is when you rest.
• Start small where you can manage the
number of plants and tasks, and then scale
up as the motivation, savings and appetite
Remember to add some patience to process.
Another choice we made was producing cheese
at home. This is another conversation on home-
steading and self-sufficiency.
The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce
thanks Omardath Maharaj, agricultural
economist, for his contribution of this article.
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