When it comes to food, Tobago has earned its good reputation.
Local businesses are taking full advantage of the Tobago Good Foods Project—an initiative of the European Business Chamber in Trinidad and Tobago (Eurocham TT)—to ensure they produce only the highest quality foods. It is part of the wider Enabling Competitive Business (ECB) strategy, a collaboration of the Ministries of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications (MTIIC) and the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development.
The project aims to support Tobago’s food producers in five sub-sectors: dairy goat production, beekeeping, organic farming, root crops and tree crops. Such products have been in high demand with foreigners, and consistent high quality should have a positive impact on tourism.
Producers displayed their jars of jam and marmalade—neatly labeled and crowned with colourful bonnets tied with ribbons—and bottles of smooth, golden honey, during a presentation hosted last Friday (16 January, 2015) by Eurocham TT at La Tartaruga restaurant in Buccoo. The event purposed to showcase foods that were produced and processed by Tobagonians.
The project provided technical support for Tobago producers seeking to expand their businesses, and experts to mentor the producers, along with guidance on product development and improving food safety standards.
“It’s all about creating good foods for the tourism and hotel sectors,” said Eurocham TT’s President Marie Louise Norton-Murray, who explained that businesses’ track records and their willingness to participate in the programme for three years were major criteria for selection.
“We did a lot of workshops, visited estates, and chose beneficiaries. It was based on their estate and entrepreneurship… Our consultants get on the ground level with the beneficiaries” Norton-Murray said.
The Tobago House of Assembly has endorsed the project, as it is expected to create positive economic opportunities for agriculture and build on Tobago’s mantra of being “clean, green, safe and serene.” The THA continues to promote and support investments in the production of ‘good food’ in Tobago as it is directly associated with its tourism brand. ‘Good food’ refers to food from producers and processors that use agricultural and processing practices that respect human health and the environment and promote sustainable agriculture.
Beekeeper Murchison Figari said French consultant Michel Bocquet had helped train the Tobago Honey Producers on creating a higher quality bee brood, which should improve honey production.
“Varroa was our main project. It’s a type of parasitic mite that feeds on bees. We are being taught how we can manage Varroa and produce more queens,” said Figari, whose apiary is based in Lowlands, sells honey directly to the public, but has long-term expansion plans.
The Enabling Competitive Business (ECB) Strategy is supported by funding from the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund. Eurocham TT received a grant of more than € 200,000 euros for the Good Foods Project from the Ministry of Trade under the ECB.