Caroni Green Limited (CGL) plans on assisting Tobago's pepper sauce producers with raw material, CEO Sharma Lalla has said.
A team from the company recently met with representatives of the Tobago Agro Processors Association (TAPA) led by president Darilyn Smart and Bernard Mitchell, CEO of Eco-Industrial Development Company of Tobago (E-IDCOT).
"In presenting an overview of the Tobago agro-sector, Ms Smart indicated that Tobago's predominantly small-scale agro-processing enterprises continue to face production problems on account of inadequate and inconsistent supply of raw materials," he said.
"Ms Smart reiterated that unreliable raw material supplies was one of the major constraints to reliable production flows experienced by agro-processors in Tobago. Processors claim that there is not enough raw material produced locally for processing at competitive prices. She added that local agro-processing also suffers from saturation of the available local market which results in far too limited market options.
"On the other hand, she noted that there is a growing market for specialised food items in the major metropolitan centres of Toronto, New York, Miami and London which presents a host of opportunities for entrepreneurs to carve a niche for Trinidad and Tobago.
Sharma said meeting was intended to explore possible collaborative initiatives to move the sector forward and to discuss ways in which collaboration between agro-processors and manufacturers of local value-added products and producers of the raw materials and processing inputs could be improved.
"The objective is to formulate solutions to the problems of serious material and technical deficiencies that retard their development and slow the pace of their emergence as a significant economic sector," he explained.
Mitchell noted that agriculture is a key area of focus of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and its Division of Agriculture, which is supporting and encouraging a number of initiatives to develop this sector even further.
The CGL team toured the multi-producer units constructed at the Cove Eco Industrial and Business Park which provide fully-equipped facilities for agro processors and light manufacturing in support of economic diversification and development of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
TAPA has leased space in one of the units and is setting up state-of-the-art packaging and labelling equipment financed by the Canadian High Commission.
Lalla said CGL continues to focus on establishment of strategic partnerships in agriculture and has been involved in initiatives aimed at building capacity in agro-processing and improving market access.