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Food Science Faculty Provide Value-Added Food Product Training to Trinidad and Tobago Rural Women’s Group

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urdue University’s International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA) and Purdue Extension are home to the USAID John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program implemented in Trinidad and Tobago (TT). The F2F TT program seeks to improve food and nutrition security through productivity, safety and profitability as well as growing the extension services. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded program has implemented virtual assignments over the past year due to COVID-19. While different from the traditional in-person assignments, the virtual assignments have proven to be successful.  

Photos provided by the Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT) Photos provided by the Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT)

Most recently, Purdue Food Science Department’s Dharmendra Mishra and Amanda Deering, provided a training overview in value-added product development, product concept and kitchen/lab scale product, food safety for shelf-stable foods, and product marketing to the Network of Rural Women Producers in Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT). The NRWPTT is a national group promoting women’s issues and empowering women to enhance their economic and social well-being through agriculture and agro-processing.

“I greatly enjoyed working with the women who are food entrepreneurs in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Deering. “They asked great questions and are interested in producing safe, high-quality foods and products to sell in their local markets. We are excited to help these women to improve the foods that they are producing.”

Many of the NRWPTT members are involved in agro-processing and food and value-added product development. The members work with raw and semi-processed products such as mangoes, tamarind, cassava, peppers, citrus, papaya, yams, breads and sweet potatoes.

“The impact of this training was phenomenal for our members, especially of our youth members,” said NRWPTT President Gia Gaspard-Taylor. “They learned a lot and they are now eager to learn even more as they endeavor to grow and sustain their agro-processing food businesses.".

With the training overview from Deering and Mishra, the Rural Women’s Group is closer to producing products that are competitive, profitable, and sustainable.

“This was a great opportunity. These women entrepreneurs are an energetic group with a passion to create new products that could be commercialized,” said Mishra. “The discussions included the safe production of food products and the use of fruits in cosmetics production. I hope to see their products in the local markets.”

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