Tech4agri: The Web series: Ep 4 – It’s called Hydroponics

A method of production using soil less medium and a circulating nutrient water system! It’s called Hydroponics, a long awaited episode of the web series.

Mr. Dipsingh, operator of the Choon Hydroponics farm, shares tips on how he brought his enterprise into a success.

He constantly seeks ways to improve upon the farm. He has maximised his space, ensured regular access to seedlings with his own nursery, looks after the well being of his employees and has cut cost by sourcing all material and inputs for the operation right here in Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Dipsingh also explained that Agriculture is a sustainable endeavour for himself and his family as he left a high paying job in the IT sector at the executive level, to pursue farming.

Watch the series for more and do share with your friends and colleagues! Stay dedicated!




Nothing but inspiration: #tffsummit

#TFFSummit Top Left: The women that change the world, Top Right: Winners Team Innovision, Bottom Left: Runner up Team FoPo, Bottom Right: winners of the special prize and runner up, Team Aahaar. Photos Courtesy Thought for Food

#TFFSummit Top Left: The women that change the world, Top Right: Winners Team Innovision, Bottom Left: Runner up Team FoPo, Bottom Right: winners of the special prize and runner up, Team Aahaar. Photos Courtesy Thought for Food

And the winners are…

Team Innovision! You can see the shock and amazement on their faces having won the 2014 Thought for Food Challenge. Surprise was in store as there was not one, but two runner ups each winning a prize, Team FoPo and Team Aahar. The latter team took home an extra prize provided by The Kirchner Group Food Fellows making them double winners! Congratulations all around! During the event Tech4agri live tweeted and by the end of the finalists’ pitches, no one know who would be the winner. The judges needed extra time in fact to give an answer. Only then do you see how they came to their decision. Each team winning had a direct and immediate impact in reducing food waste by the billions of dollars in addition to measured social impact

Humble thoughts on winning strategies

Team Innovision developed a solar-powered micro-climate chamber for small scale farmers that increases shelf life of fruits and vegetables using an evaporation cooling system. What clearly stood out was the invention’s low cost as an affordable substitute for refrigeration to reduce food loss in developing countries, the overall contribution to food security and its potential to remove the use of a poisonous fruit and vegetable preservative used in their home country.

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It’s finally here!!!!

The 2015 Thought for Food Summit takes place today and Tech4Agri will be there live! The event is held in Lisbon, Portugal a beautiful city with rich culture, and food that serves as a prominent hub for entrepreneurship & innovation.

Meet the finalists

Hundreds of teams from universities all around the world entered the TFF Challenge, each diverse, motivated and brave enough to tackle the challenge of “How to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050?” Can you imagine the ingenuity coming out of such a competition!

From improving post harvest losses with the use of thermochromic and hydrochromic labels to an alternative meat product derived from insects; from roof top and vertical farming to community action and cooperative skill development these teams have applied science, technology, communication and simple innovation to create amazing ideas that can certainly contribute to solving this global problem of food availability and access.

Following their hard work the finalist teams had a stellar bootcamp where they developed their ideas even futher and practiced their eventual live pitch which will be held on the second day of the summit. The best to them all! View their projects at the TFF Website.

The TFF Challenge 2015 finalists at their development bootcamp. Picture courtesy Thought for Food

The TFF Challenge 2015 finalists at their development bootcamp. Picture courtesy Thought for Food

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What drives you to succeed?

As customary on Tech4agri , we take the time to feature agriyouth like many of us out there striving for success. Understanding success factors certainly helps one along the way but it is not an exact formula. What is clear is that one must have that drive to pursue what he or she is truly after, exhausting every opportunity, to ensure they accomplish their goals.

This week we feature Machel A. Emanuel, a Dominican born, PhD student at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica. Machel’s academic background  features a Bsc. Zoology & Botany, following that an Msc. Plant Production and Protection.

Over time Machel opted for an academic career within the university community which led to a specific research area in crop science with a focus on post harvest techniques. Mainly his work is devoted to the physiology and biochemistry of fresh tropical and sub-tropical fruits during the maturation, ripening and storage stages.

Furthermore Machel has conducted research on some fruits such as ackee (Blighia sapida), june plum (Spondias dulcis), carambola (Averrhoa carambola), otaheite apple (Syzygium malaccense), soursop (Annona muricata) and custard apple (Annona reticulate) with much of his work featured on Acta Horticulturae, an immense online repository of horticultural research information.

He is also well networked as a member of the International Society for Horticultural Sciences (ISHS) and certified as an Organic Farm Inspector by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

Currently Machel is expanding his career, knowledge and field experience even further as a visiting scholar at the Horticultural Science Department, University of Florida.

Truly a dedicated individual, one can clearly see his efforts to build his reputation within the academic world. Trends within this strategy centre on finding a balance of skills and  certified qualifications  while simultaneously exposing oneself to related fields of study followed by narrowing one’s focus.

In a brief interview with Tech4Agri Machel explains more his method and continued efforts in agriculture.


Phd Candidate Mr. Machel A. Emmanuel

Phd Candidate Mr. Machel A. Emmanuel

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Producers on the ‘Innocentive’ – Part 4

Producers on the Innocentive8

Last but certainly not least in the series is the Aquaculture Association Of Trinidad & Tobago (aQuaTT).

With a revamped website and new management the Aquaculture Association of Trinidad and Tobago (AQUATT) is well on its way to ensuring the progress of its members. The association has a data base of about 400 persons, 75 members, and approximately 24 (including a nine member Board of Directors) financial members of which 5 (non-board) are producers.

In early December 2013 the association offered an introductory training session in partnership with the ASTT (Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago) and the SFC (Sugarcane Feed Center).

This was a 10 day course that spanned 10 Saturday sessions. Certificates under the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) system was awarded to all 30 persons that completed the training adding new producers to the industry’s growing number of stakeholders.

Its new website consolidates all relevant information on aquaculture production including opportunities for training, jobs, current projects, online resources and industry updates. In addition the group has a very active facebook group.

Even though the website facilitates an online membership hub for market information, the group now holds regular general meetings every month.

This type of organisation and camaraderie among the industry’s producers have spawned provided the incentive for innovation among the aforementioned.

As illustrated above one producer utilizes vertically cut and stacked water tanks to house her tilapia fingerlings which she makes available to other producers.

The tanks are stacked on a metal frame three sets high by three sets wide supported by a powerful pump system.

This producer has seemingly invented ‘Vertical Aquaculture’. Although this technique’s counterpart, vertical farming is a prevalent topic, never has vertical aquaculture come to light.

The producer employees another simple technique by partially burying horizontally cut water tanks to improve its stability as when the tank is cut its loose some structural integrity.

If you have seen Vertical Aquaculture in practice elsewhere in the world, please share this innovation. Comment below or post the information at the tech4agri facebook page.

For more on the ‘Innocentive series’, see the previous posts: Part Three, Part Two, Part One and the prelude!

Producers on the ‘Innocentive’ – Part 3

Producers on the Innocentive3

In the town of Arouca, east Trinidad lies one of the most impressive hydroponic systems in Trinidad and Tobago.

It is ideally located an urban area between major towns, access roads and also near to the Piarco international airport. This means that their for fresh produce is ready for local, regional and international markets

The Choon family trio of  producers, grow high quality hydroponically grown lettuce and they make it a point to let the general public know of this on their simple but very effectively labeling.

Also to note is their bar-code which assists in keeping production records provides tracking in the unfortunate event of a breach in food safety.

Using their available landscape the production layout is spread out and raised for easy access and to assist in preventing pest infections. It is supported by a large pump room and tank system as illustrated below.

Apart from its scale the hydroponic system is automated and can be controlled by a control panel located in the pump room as illustrated below.

Producers on the Innocentive5

The device hanging from the ceiling (bottom left hand corner) serves an important purpose. As the Choons do not reside at the location of the enterprise this device is a camera which provides a live feed of the product levels flowing within the system, that is fertilizers and other nutrients.

This live feed is accessible over the internet. Therefore when at home the Choons can monitor the system’s activity and notify a nearby relative to resolve any problems that may arise.

All other parts of the system are in line with a regular hydroponic cycle however, on a medium scale.

 Unusual to be seen are the presence of fish nets hanging around the miniature shade house, nearby their pump room which serves as a seedling production center for the enterprise.

Mr. Choon explains, “Because of our raised irrigation lines we don’t have too many insect or fungus problems but there is another pest that is prevalent…birds. They fly down and peck at the lettuce. People ‘eat with their eyes’. They will only buy what looks good. We have already made strides in producing good quality vegetables. So why not ensure it looks good as well.”

In the vein of the term ‘innocentive’ this set up is simply ingenious.

Producers on the Innocentive4