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Trinidad and Tobago harvests first ever commercial onion cropTrinidad and Tobago's first ever commercially viable onion crop has been harvested this week as a result of a pilot project coordinated jointly by the Ministry of Food Production and local company Caribbean Chemicals.
30,000 onions were seeded in November, transplanted in December and then harvested 90 days later.
This is the first time that most people will have heard about this, as Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath explained, “We didn’t tell the media about this project four months ago. We wanted to do it and make sure it could work and then... show the fruits of our labour. Onion is one of four crops we want to focus on as a staple in the local diet—along with carrots, potatoes and peanuts
Joe Pires, MD of Caribbean Chemicals said this was the first time onions were grown locally on a commercial scale, despite research being conducted in the 1960s and 1970s on the viability of the crop—even though other Caribbean islands had previously used the same research to implement their own sustainable onion production. He said restaurants were already on board to purchase the entire crop because the flavour of a fresh onion, as opposed to one in storage for two months before shipping, is far superior.
Over the last five years, Trinidad and Tobago has imported $100 million worth of onions. Chaguaramas, where the first crop was harvested, is one of three locations (along with Cora and Icacos) in Trinidad with the ideal sandy loam soil type to grow onions. Bharath said the only thing that prevented onion farming in the past was the lack of will, and he looks forward to seeing onions and other non-traditional crops, like carrots, being developed.
Publication date: 3/1/2012
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