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Purdue Farmer-to-Farmer project helps cocoa farmers from North-Eastern regions of Trinidad-Lopinot, Brasso Seco and Aripo

"This was an amazing experience. The most enjoyable moments were seeing and experiencing their excitement from making food using the cassava flour! Because of his gluten intolerance, one member was able to enjoy tortillas and brownies again.”

- Molly Hoag and Abigail Creigh

The Tri-Valley Cluster is a group of farmers, agro-processors, agricultural value-added agents, agro-tourism agents and rural community development activists from the North-Eastern regions of Trinidad- Lopinot, Brasso Seco and Aripo. The group strives to empower stakeholders by leading and facilitating the development of rural community agribusiness, agricultural raw material production, product and service development and innovation, joint event marketing, fund raising and awareness drives. Through various development initiatives, collaboration with industry stakeholders, and other support agencies, the Tri-Valley Cluster’s main goal is to create opportunities for growth, diversification and sustainability of its members whilst ensuring adherence to international standards of quality, leading to improved value and globally recognized brands.

Many of the cocoa farmers of the Tri-Valley Cluster are unprofitable during non-cocoa bearing seasons. Specifically with recently established estates, the long gestation time of cocoa (3 years before bearing) creates a financial burden and cashless period for farmers. As a result, the Tri-Valley farmers wanted to diversify their agribusiness in terms of agro-processing, specifically by making baking flour from root crops and tubers such as cassava, dasheen, and sweet potato grown on their farms. The Tri-Valley farmers had no experience within this area and wanted to learn about making baking flour.

To support the organization, The USAID-funded John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Trinidad and Tobago, co-led by Purdue University and the University of West Indies - St. Augustine, connected with Health and Human Sciences Educator with Purdue Extension, Abigail Creigh, from Noble County, Indiana and Health and Human Sciences Educator with Purdue Extension, Molly Hoag, from Wells County, Indiana. Both Molly and Abigail have extensive knowledge in food agro-processing with a specific focus on food processing and storage techniques and food safety.

Three people working with cassava in a kitchen Molly Hoag works with Tri-Valley Cluster participants.

In March 2023, Abigail and Molly trained 10 Tri-Valley cocoa members in food preservation and processing and how to be more sustainable in profits for food products that they grow. Through the volunteer technical assistance, the farmers of Tri-Valley learned new techniques of makingcassava-flour.jpg baking flour in order to diversify their cocoa farms and increase their productivity, marketability, profitability and sustainability in the global cocoa industry. This has allowed the cocoa farmers the ability to provide new products for allergy sensitivities and usage of local products rather than costly wheat imports. The knowledge that Abigail Creigh and Molly Hoag have passed on will be essential in helping the Tri-Valley members continue to improve their agribusinesses as well as ensure adherence to international standards in terms of agro-processing techniques.

Click HERE for more information about the Purdue-UWI Farmer-to-Farmer project in Trinidad and Tobago. 

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