Oficina Regional de la FAO para América Latina y el Caribe

FAO helps enhance resilience in the National School Feeding Programmes in Trinidad and Tobago

Over 90 farmers and Trainers directly benefited from Good Agricultural Practices courses in Trinidad and Tobago. These courses helped share techniques for incorporating increased food safety practices for local produce with a specific aim on providing better quality food for School Feeding Programmes. The Trainers who participated in these courses belong to agencies who train over 2000 farmers per year.

Photo: ©FAO/Reshma Mohan

Good farming, good food

Against the backdrop of the impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of securing the nutrition of the island’s children from external shocks through the Resilient School Feeding Programmes sub-project is underscored. This is a current initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)  in collaboration with the Governments of Mexico  and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to support the national school feeding program of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

One activity of the sub-project is a focus on facilitating linkages between local farmers and the National School Feeding Programmes.  If the Programmes are to become resilient to external shocks, they need to secure a consistent supply of quality produce from local sources. This reduces vulnerability of extensive supply chains and reduces their carbon footprint, while creating opportunities for small and local farmers. Additionally, local   produce is fresher, highly nutritious, safe and of good quality when compared to imported highly processed food.

Good Agricultural Practices 

To secure high-quality produce that is grown in a sustainable, environmentally sound manner, farmers are required to follow Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in food production. Trinidad and Tobago’s Standard for GAP – Fresh Produce Requirements, TTS 648:2020 was prepared by the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards with the support of several agencies including the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Company (NAMDEVCO).

This standard “established the minimum requirements of good agricultural practices for fresh produce, inclusive of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and root crops, at production, harvesting, post-harvest handling, packaging, storage, or transportation stages and where offered for sale or supply for direct consumption of further processing” (NAMDEVCO website).

Off to a good start 

From April – June 2022, training occurred for farmers and for representatives of the National School Dietary Services Limited (NSDSL) and Extension Officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries and Tobago House of Assembly. Trainers were also able to have hands on experience training farmers with the new knowledge shared with them.

Training was facilitated by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), NAMDEVCO and the Tobago Agribusiness Development Company (TADCO) in both Trinidad and Tobago. All participants received personal copies of the Good Agricultural Practices standard at the end of the workshop.  NAMDEVCO will also be providing follow up monitoring and support to farmers on an ongoing basis.

Now they are all off to a good start for safer food production in Trinidad and Tobago!