Locally Grown Strawberries and Berry Fruits To Hit Market in 2022 - Opportunities For Food and Beverage Businesses Imminent

Locally Grown Strawberries and Berry Fruits To Hit Market in 2022 - Opportunities For Food and Beverage Businesses Imminent

Berrycove Limited is set to commence the construction of Trinidad and Tobago’s first fully climate smart commercial scale hydroponic greenhouse farm at Cove Eco-Industrial and Business Park in Tobago (Cove Tobago) in early 2022.

With an initial investment of TTD 20 million in phase one, Berrycove will introduce state-of-the-art Agtech to grow new categories of specialty crops locally. According to Ralph Birkhoff, Project Manager , Berrycove Limited –

“the investment will lead to the supply of organic quality berry fruits and other produce categories for fresh local supply, as well as numerous downstream agri-processing opportunities for local consumption and export which will ultimately reduce our local food import bill and create forex stimulating export advantages.”

Sekou Alleyne, President InvesTT says “this type of investment is new to Trinidad and Tobago and provides significant import substitution potential as it can considerably reduce the country’s dependency on imported produce and fruit. It will also create jobs for 25 skilled workers in the first phase of the project.”

The farm will focus on the substitution of currently imported green produce categories and an assortment of popular berry fruits and provides a unique opportunity for the commercial production of ‘cold weather’ crops in a sub-tropical setting such as Tobago. With the import of fresh strawberries to Trinidad and Tobago estimated at close to 60,000 lbs/month and an estimated 40-50mm lbs/year of regional frozen berry imports, there is an opportunity for businesses to take advantage of access to this luxury commodity grown in the local market at an attractive cost that can be purchased in local currency. Downstream agri-processing opportunities include the export of varied locally produced food and beverage berry products across the CARICOM region, such as jams, jellies, beers and wines, preserves and frozen products.

Berrycove’s hydroponic system solution is projected to increase yields of produce by over 1000% and ensure year round supply or an estimated 35,000lbs per month in Phase 1. The system will employ advanced technology solutions through climate smart controlled environment agriculture limiting the impact to natural resources as the system is very energy and water efficient even compared to other hydroponic systems,  and does not use any valuable arable land.

Birkhoff is keen on attracting both young men and women to get involved in agriculture and aims to recruit a farm manager, assistant growers, and packaging and logistics staff among others. He states “We estimate it will take approximately 4 months to become operational at Cove Tobago. To this end, we will require InvesTT’s continued support...InvesTT has worked with us since late 2019 and assisted greatly in facilitating several strategic interventions.  We’re also currently finalizing an MOU with the University of the West Indies Faculty of Agriculture here in Trinidad to exchange technical information and establish a long-term recruitment program for our farm operations across the region.”

The hydroponic greenhouse farm initiative was borne out of a partnership between Anthony N. Sabga Limited, Alquimi Renewables LLC and Island Growers Caribbean and belies not only natural climactic limitations, but also the threat of anthropogenic climate change.

The first phase will focus mainly on fresh berry production for local consumption. Berrycove Limited will be elevating the quality of fresh produce to certified organic level, without any use of chemical based control agents. Growth over the next several years will see the farm expand and include a processing component which will include the freezing and packaging of the berry fruits for regional export.

InvesTT stands firm in its commitment to provide facilitation services to Berrycove Limited and will assist in acquiring all relevant regulatory approvals to ensure the seamless implementation of this investment project.

Visit Agroprocessing | Industries & Opportunities | InvesTT to learn more about the investment opportunities in Trinidad and Tobogo's Agro-Processing Industry.