The twin isle of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is an oil and gas economy, meaning that it relies on its natural resources and a profitable energy sector for economic development.
It also means that it’s vulnerable to economic fragility, which — coupled with limited arable land — has led the government to pursue a blue economy, which promotes the development of marine resources, over an eco-friendly green economy (
These sustainability hurdles, along with large emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases from the oil and gas sector, have kept T&T ranking middle of the road or poor on Yale’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) for climate change (2, 3).
Sustainability in this Caribbean nation is underdeveloped but being propelled through collaborative private and public sector efforts, with a primary focus on agriculture.
Here are 5 organizations and farms leading sustainability efforts in Trinidad and Tobago.
Founder and CEO of the nonprofit group WhyFarm, Alpha Sennon is a self-styled “agri-entrepreneur” in Trinidad and Tobago. He’s also an Ashoka Fellow and a recipient of the CEMEX-TEC award.
Ashoka is an organization that connects and supports the world’s leading social entrepreneurs and change-makers, while CEMEX-TEC is a highly competitive international award that provides grants and seed capital to leading social entrepreneurs.
Agri-entertainment and education
WhyFarm’s catchphrase — “Plant one tree and eat for free” — says it all.
One of WhyFarm’s goals is to engage young people and sustain the agricultural sector through the continuity of generations of farmers who will institute sustainable agricultural practices.
“WhyFarm is a catalyst for inspiration in the agricultural sector and encourages citizens to make changes to eat local and support local farmers,” says Sennon.
His team created AGRIman, the world’s first food security and nutrition superhero, and focuses on educational campaigns and “agri-entertainment,” which combines catchy taglines and graphics to creatively engage young people and policymakers alike.
WhyFarm uses a combination of traditional farming techniques and hydroponic systems for several of its projects.
One such project is a first of its kind in T&T. The Culinary Medicine Food Park is located in the San Fernando General Hospital and grows food via a hydroponic garden to complement the hospital’s menu and reduce its food bill.
Furthermore, WhyFarm’s Grown in East Port of Spain is a community garden and collaborative project funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that teaches community members home gardening and agricultural entrepreneurship.
Alongside the org’s “School of AgriCOOLture,” it has helped kick-start many school gardens to teach basic farming techniques at the primary-school level.
WhyFarm has now expanded into Haiti, Rwanda, and Zambia.
WhyFarm is a nonprofit, award-winning organization that focuses on education and “agri-entertainment” to promote sustainable agriculture and a thriving agricultural sector in Trinidad and Tobago.
Boissierre Greens Earthworm Farm is a sustainable agricultural practice in Gran Couva, Trinidad and Tobago, run by Dexter Ragoonanan.
The earthworms feed on organic waste, such as vegetable peels, garden trimmings, animal manure, and some types of paper, and produce casts (poop) that have a high mineral content and are used to fertilize plants.
Ragoonanan has designed bins suitable for home composting. Worm castings produced on his farm are available for purchase.
Additionally, his company collaborates on recycling and organic waste management projects, much like the Tobago Recycling Resource Initiative, which encourages people to use marked recycling bins for plastics, aluminum, food containers, and cardboard.
Boissierre Greens Earthworm Farm uses vermiculture to produce high quality, organic fertilizers that sustain plant growth. This farm also promotes recycling efforts across Trinidad and Tobago.
Established in 1990 by Ramgopaul and Beena Roop, Rocrops Agrotec is a small, family-owned farm that’s leading the agroecological movement in Trinidad and Tobago.
What is agroecology?
Agroecology is a type of farming practice that combines the sciences of agronomy — the study of soil management and crop production — and ecology — the relationship between living organisms and their environment (
The farm was built on a former sugarcane plantation, and its owners rehabilitated the degraded, acidic soils through systems like fertigation, which distributes precise amounts of water and fertilizers to avoid excessive use (
Additionally, the farm uses the aromatic weed lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) as a deterrent for the growth of other weeds without the use of herbicides. Lemongrass also has many potential health benefits (
This rehabilitation has facilitated the growth of vegetables, herbs, tropical fruits, and citrus fruits like limes. The farm produces high quality, pesticide-free crops throughout the year.
This style of farming relies on the biodiversity of the natural ecosystem to support agricultural production. It’s a potential model to improve public health via increased and reliable access to nutritious, local foods (
As such, Rocrops Agrotec is environmentally friendly and a model for agroecology as a sustainable practice that’s also economically sound.
Rocrops Agrotec is a family-owned farm that uses agroecological techniques to produce high quality, pesticide-free crops from former sugarcane fields damaged by years of overuse.
Green Age Farms is an award-winning start-up and vertical hydroponics farming system established by Kevin Singh and Faariah Khan-Singh.
What is vertical hydroponic farming?
Vertical farming is a climate-controlled agricultural system that promotes sustainability by utilizing vertical spaces — rather than large acreage — to grow crops, thus reducing the land required for crop production (
For example, these hydroponic systems have been set up in small spaces inside homes, backyard gardens, classroom gardens, and greenhouses.
Green Age Farms uses a drip hydroponics system — a popular technique that uses mineral solutions instead of soil — to yield high crop outputs.
This farm also uses stackable pots for vertical farming, as well as supplies and installs vertical hydroponics systems and greenhouse supplies to both small-scale and commercial farms, popularizing these sustainable methods across the country.
Green Age Farms is a hydroponics company that’s diversifying T&T’s sustainable agricultural sector through resource-efficient vertical farming for both small-scale and commercial farms.
Nourish TT was founded by a group of Trinidadians with a shared vision to reduce food waste and alleviate hunger in Trinidad and Tobago.
According to the World Bank, up to one-third of global foods processed for human consumption is wasted or lost, and the 2021 United Nations’ food waste report indicated that 61% of food waste comes from households (12, 13).
Managing food waste
Nourish TT fills the gap between the high rates of hunger and food waste by connecting companies with surplus food to charities in underserved communities via its app. This way, good food that would have been thrown away is made available to those who need it most.
In addition to fruits, vegetables, and meats — either fresh, dried, or canned — Nourish TT distributes packages with basic home, baby, and pharmaceutical essentials.
To date, this organization has donated over 250,000 meals and strives to evolve food waste management in Trinidad and Tobago to reduce hunger.
Nourish TT is redefining food waste management in Trinidad and Tobago by connecting underserved communities to sources of surplus food, thus reducing hunger.
Agricultural sustainability in Trinidad and Tobago is in its developmental stages.
Still, thanks to the work of several nonprofits and companies, many Trinbagonians are working to promote vertical farming, reduce food waste, support hydroponic growing, and utilize other methods to connect people to the land they live on and the food they eat.
All of these efforts are pivoting Trinidad and Tobago toward a future of sustainability with a focus on agricultural advancement.