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The importance of Agro-processing

We live in times where food prices have skyrocketed, and the cost of living is constantly on the rise. Foreign exchange is also on an all-time low as our food import bill is significantly high.

Local solutions have been more advertised since the beginning of the pandemic and one such solution is agro-processing.

The term agro-processing refers to a subset of manufacturing that processes raw materials and intermediate products derived from the agricultural sector. It can be defined simply as the processing of agricultural products creating a further by-product.

The agro-processing industry entails transforming products originating from agriculture, forestry as well as fisheries. The agro-processing sector adds significant value to raw agricultural products. The new product therefore has value added in the three dimensions of primary value-added stage (packaging of raw fresh produce), processing/extraction stage (extraction and packaging of juices) and the preparation of foods (minimal processing such as jams and jellies).

Agro-processing is especially important as it provides sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction and food security. Agro-processing creates enhanced agricultural productivity and increased farm household incomes, promotes year-round availability of affordable safe and nutritious food, and creates jobs.

One of the most significant benefits is that it reduces importation of similar or foreign foods and conserve foreign exchange.

The agro-processing industry is important to the economy of Trinidad and Tobago not only through the addition to create new local products in a commercial scale, but it also provides many jobs through continued growth and expansion of the sector.

Due to this, there are many support systems in place for entrepreneurs who wish to venture into agro-processing. We are not only able to reduce our food import bill but generate foreign exchange for our country by the selling to international markets.

A few agro-processed products include processed dairy products including some yogurts and dairy spreads, frozen fruit and vegetables, sugar confectionery, chocolate, cereal-based processed products, various prepared foods and sauces and non-alcoholic beverages.

If you are considering agro-processing as a career path, I want to encourage you as the benefits are vast.

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