Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 10th 2013 Contents OCTOBER 2013 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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Size matters not
Technology is not limited to larger scale farms.
"Technologies can be applied to any acreage. For
example, the IPM Scope is an important tool with
respect to the identification of insect pests. The GPS
is important for farm boundaries. The Quantum Light
Meter is important for greenhouse farmers because
the quantity of light is important for optimum green-
house crop photosynthesis.
"Crop controllers/timers are useful since watering
and fertigation times for crops can be set/programmed
whilst the farmer attend to other farm activities. All
these are both labour- and time-saving devices."
Burgess said it is difficult to put a monetary value
to how farmers can save money through the use of
cutting-edge farming technology.
"It is difficult to put a dollar figure, but labour
saving would be one area where there will be savings.
For example, a farmer will not have to carry a sample
of a pest to a research station to have the pest iden-
tified. He or she can e-mail pictures and get back
results, so it is a time saving, gas saving, traffic saving,
etc. You will not need the expertise and associated
costs of a quantity surveyor to map boundaries," he
Saving money on labour.
"You will not need to employ persons to walk and
fertilise or water crops during the dry periods of the
year when you can set your timer. Think about paying
at least two persons. Presently, farm workers are
asking $200 per day to water one hectare of a crop
at least twice per day for about three months. Labour
will only be required at the critical times of establishing
the crop and at harvesting."
Burgess said attracting labour into agriculture is
not a problem only in T&T.
"Remember, labour is also a problem. But doing
agriculture through a mechanised system cuts down
the need for labour in certain areas. But to really deal
with the labour shortfall, agriculture must be made
attractive," he said.
Linking farming with communities
When the model farm started five years ago, Burgess
said PCS Nitrogen wanted to give back to the com-
munity and a poll was taken asking community res-
idents what they wanted.
"It came out of a community survey and we asked
the people what the company wanted, and they said
they wanted something agriculturally related. Out of
that came the model farm. Our main mandate is
training people. The land is leased from the Govern-
ment, but all the resources from the farm are from
PCS Nitrogen," he said.
The model farm assists former Caroni (1975) Ltd
workers in improving their agricultural techniques.
"We focus on training farmers on new and improved
techniques in agriculture. Part of our mandate was
also to show Caroni workers what can be done with
two acres of land and rotating crops like paw paw,
ochro, melongene and others."
Burgess said the model farm does about three
training courses a month, and has so far trained 3,000
"This is done in various agriculture-related areas.
Our courses are both theory and practical. It is free
of charge and, at the end of it, participants get a cer-
tificate. Our method of teaching is doing theory in
the classroom, like irrigation, then they go into the
field and see the practical. We train farmers, home
growers, schools, credit unions, among others."
Burgess said unlike the other model farms, PCS
Nitrogen s farm places more emphasis on training
than actual production, although their crop production
has not been insignificant.
"Our model farm is designed to train and to show
people how to plan and lay out farms. We are not
a mega farm like the Government farms. They were
designed to produce large scale. On the other hand,
we are designed to show farmers how to produce."
Burgess said one of the main problems farmers
face in T&T is record keeping as many of them have
not been trained to keep records. This is important
for those wanting to export and it is a good business
"In 2011, US President Obama passed the Food
Safety Modernisation Act. One of the main elements
in that is record keeping. Farmers must keep records.
To help solve this, we have produced a record keeping
book. It was recently launched and based on good
agricultural practices. It is $60 a copy. All areas that
are important to agriculture are found in the book,"
"We focus on letting everybody know that agri-
culture is a business. People must come in and run
it as a business and go through a whole planning
process. Farmers must do their planning, they must
sit and work out the cost of production, where they
will get seed material from, the varieties used," he
Farm-grown produced is sold.
"All of the produce from the farm is sold. It goes
to National Canners, Taipan Industries, which take
our paw paw, and small businesses, which do food
processing, like the cottage industries. Some of it is
also sold to the T&T Agribusiness Association (TABA)
and to PCS staff," he said.
In the future, Burgess said PCS Nitrogen wants to
bring even more technology to contribute in making
farming and agriculture in T&T more cutting edge.
"We intend to keep helping farmers in all areas of
agriculture. The PCS Nitrogen model farm has been
a success because what we set out to achieve has
been done, that is the model farm," Burgess said.
Project assists former
The model farm had its official launch on Feb-
ruary 11, 2009. Its original objective was to edu-
cate and demonstrate on new and improved
technical and agronomic practices to the agri-
The farm, located on 75 acres (30 hectares)
of land, comprises three greenhouses with
tomato, sweet peppers and lettuce herbs, a
two-acre plot for Caroni workers, a ten-acre
field of breadfruit, a five-acre parcel of long
mango, two acres of dwarf pommecythere, five
acres of paw paw and two acres of endangered
fruit trees, including caimite, tamarind and bal-
The farm has so far harvested 540,000 kilo-
grammes (1.2 million pounds) of produce, in-
cluding tomato, paw paw, sweet potato,
cassava, sweet peppers, pommecythere and
One of the main problems
farmers face in T&T is record
keeping as many of them
have not been trained to keep
records. This is important for
those wanting to export and
it is a good business practice.
Farming the PCS model farm way. It starts with a series of greenhouses, inside of
which are planted vegetables like cauliflower. Outside is a healthy field of sweet
potatoes. The need for labour is filled with machines that do mulching and
PHOTOS COURTESY: PCS NITROGEN
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