At the heart of the country’s Agribusiness is its agriculture which has become a thriving industry for Trinidad and Tobago in an era of growing global concerns regarding food security, rising food prices, food price volatility, declining food production levels and increased demand for biofuels.
Agriculture is a significant contributor to the diversification of the country’s economy away from its main GDP contributor sector oil and gas. In 2013 it contributed TT$928M to non-energy GDP with export agriculture at TT$68.7M (source: Central Statistical Office). The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago recorded an estimated industry growth of 3.8% in 2014 with 10.5% of the country’s land space given over to agricultural use.
Source: Central Statistical Office - National Economic Accounts Division; GDP of T&T at Market Prices (Current Prices)
The country’s main agricultural crops are cocoa, rice, citrus, coffee, vegetables and poultry. Citrus fruits and tomatoes are the most lucrative in the sector and are important export products along with cocoa, sugar, coffee and cut flowers. The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries is the Government Ministry that is championing the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development of food and non-food systems, supported by sound public policy. Trinidad and Tobago’s major export partners include the United States, Chile, Argentina, Spain, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Colombia, Guyana, Jamaica, Netherlands and Suriname.
Reasons to Invest in T&T’s Agribusiness sector:-
The local food and beverage sector (measured and included in Manufacturing) offers significant investment opportunities, particularly for manufacturers who utilize unique regional agro-products to develop goods. In light of increased access to global markets and North America’s appreciation and desire for exotic foods, as well as the growth of gourmet lifestyles in more developed metropolitan communities, this sector has an opportunity to create and innovate in the production of specialty items for local, regional and international markets.
Trinidad and Tobago enjoys a healthy comparative advantage in cocoa production with its unique combination of rich cocoa history, suitable soils and climate, investment in intellectual capital by having the longest continuous cocoa breeding programme in the world, and a one-of-a-kind universal collection of unique cocoa varieties. ‘Trinitario’ cocoa is in high demand throughout the globe by the most renowned of chocolatiers. Fine flavour cocoa accounts for only 5% of world production and is concentrated in a few countries. The International Cocoa Agreement, 1993, recognizes 17 countries as producers of fine flavour cocoa. Of these, eight (8) are classified as exclusive producers, Trinidad and Tobago being one of them. Production includes the Criollo, Trinitario or Forastero cocoa-tree varieties that fetch a premium price on the world market. It is characterised by a full cocoa flavour.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Scorpion Moruga pepper is the hottest naturally growing pepper in the world. It was rated the world’s hottest pepper by the New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute in February 2012. Each fruit is about the size of a golf ball and contains as much capsaicin as 25 millilitres of police-grade pepper spray. The Scorpion Moruga Pepper rates at over 2m Scovilles (SHU). Ranking just below the Scorpion Moruga pepper is the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T (>1.5m SHU). There are various other species of hot peppers grown in Trinidad and Tobago including several varieties of the 7 Pot (800,000-1m SHU) and Habaneros (>500,000 SHU). The demand for pepper mash prepared from Trinidad and Tobago’s local hot peppers is steadily growing.
There is also great opportunity for Investors to establish and deploy a tank-based, modified seawater water recirculation system (Recirculated Aquaculture System [RAS]) to produce high value marine fish species for both domestic consumption in Trinidad and Tobago and export to regional and international markets. The Government has already invested substantial capital and labor resources to secure a thorough understanding of the biology and reproduction of selected fish. Ideal species to be farmed in Trinidad and Tobago are the pompano, cobia and yellowtail kingfish since they are all found in regional waters and currently both the cobia and pompano are successfully reared in tank-based RAS and flow through systems. There is a great demand for sustainably produced seafood since both North America and the EU have become net importers of seafood and entirely dependent on foreign suppliers.
Trinidad and Tobago has been ranked 1st for cost effectiveness in Central America and the Caribbean. Electricity rates within Trinidad and Tobago start as low as US$0.03/KWh offering investors access to some of the lowest energy costs in the Western Hemisphere.
In 2014 Trinidad and Tobago’s workforce was approximately 649,100 persons of whom 24,000 were involved in Agriculture and 56,500 in Manufacturing industries. This workforce speaks native English.
Labour on agricultural estates can be sub-divided into technical labour and intellectual labour. At most estates, workers are paid a daily wage which is slightly higher than minimum wage. On many local estates workers are paid according to the tasks performed rather than a daily wage.
Source: The Central Statistical Office (2010)
Trinidad and Tobago has a policy of free tertiary education and this has led to an annual figure of approximately 7,000 tertiary level graduates across a wide range of disciplines. The Agriculture sector benefits from skilled labour trained in Aquaculture, Fishing, Food Preparation, Farm Management, Crop Production, Livestock Production, General Agriculture, Fish and Fish Processing, Food and Beverage, Heavy Equipment Operation, Industrial Mechanical Maintenance, Machining, Maritime Studies, Project Management, Tourism and Hospitality.
Positive Investment climate
The World Bank’s Doing Business 2015 Report listed Trinidad and Tobago among the top 10 improvers in the world among 21 economies with the most reforms making it easier to do business. This country also moved up 12 places overall in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking. Good business practice improvements were recorded in 3 specific doing business indicators –
- Starting a Business increased by 31 percentage points
- Getting Credit by 9 points
- Resolving Insolvency by 48 points.
- Free Zones – Food and Beverage manufacturing entities in Trinidad and Tobago can avail themselves of the Free Zones programme that is offered to companies with a significant focus on exports. The Free Zone programme offers significant tax incentives to those companies enrolled in it and the benefits available include Corporation tax exemption, import duties exemption, Value Added Tax exemption, exemption on Withholding Taxes, exemption on Container Examination Fees, exemption on Work Permit fees and exemption on the payment of land and building taxes.
- Fiscal Incentives – Under the Fiscal Incentives Act Chapter 85:01 large scale manufacturing or processing companies established in Trinidad and Tobago can receive an exemption from paying customs duties, Value Added Tax and Withholding Taxes on the costs related to the production of approved products and or services.
- Import Duty Concessions – Manufacturing and food processing enterprises are allowed duty free treatment on their raw materials, machinery and equipment and in some cases packaging material based upon the provisions of the country’s Customs Act.
- Specific Agriculture Incentives – The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries administers incentives in the Agricultural sector. Benefits include a rebate on a percentage of total cost up to the maximum dollar value indicated in vehicles, water for agriculture, land preparation, soil conservation, machinery and equipment, agro processing, crops, security, waste management, protected agriculture systems, integrated pest management, post harvest and marketing, marine fisheries, soil amelioration, livestock, aquaculture, new farmers and guaranteed prices in cocoa, coffee, rice, rice seed and milk.
Market Access to consumer market of 947 Million persons
Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the CARICOM Customs Union which gives it market access to 16 million persons located amongst 15 member nations of CARICOM. CARICOM has also signed several bilateral trade agreements with various nations and entities and these also offer manufacturers located in Trinidad and Tobago further market access to a global export market of approximately 947 million people. The major trade agreements are:
- CARICOM/European Union
- CARICOM/Costa Rica
- CARICOM/Dominican Republic
Trinidad and Tobago as an individual country has also signed an additional partial scope trade agreement with Panama and there are currently two trade agreements being negotiated between Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala and El Salvador.
Research and Development
Research and development in Agribusiness is spear-headed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries which provides financial support to organizations to facilitate research, including:
- The University of the West Indies (UWI)
- The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT)
- Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)
- Trinidad and Tobago Agribusiness Association (TTABA)
- Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI)
- Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI)
- National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO)
- Estate Management and Business Development Company Limited (EMBD)
- Agricultural Development Bank (ADB)
- Seafood Industry Development Company (SIDC)
- Economic Development Board (EDB)
- Cocoa Development Company (CDC)
- Cocoa Research Centre (CRC)
Trinidad and Tobago has allocated 8,611 acres of space for industrial and business development. Currently nineteen (19) industrial parks provide ready facilities via 7,203 acres of real estate to manufacturing industries throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
New real estate options have been established with the Cove Eco Industrial and Business Park in Tobago providing 140 acres of developed land lots and the Tamana InTech Park in Trinidad providing an additional 1,100 acres of real estate.
Agricultural Farming Land is also available on private land via Lease/Profit-Sharing Arrangements and Commercial Large Farms Programmes. Specific available lands for cocoa production and aquaculture have been earmarked by the stakeholders.
Agribusiness Project Funding
The Agriculture Development Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (ADB) provides agribusiness loans for local farming and food processing projects. ADB funding is available to:
- Citizens or residents of Trinidad and Tobago, who are 18 years and over
- Companies that are registered in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago offers significant advantages for the establishment of an agro-processing facility:
- Ease of Export -Highly Developed air and sea transport and enhanced market access
- Government Incentives -Government commitment to the development of the Industry and free market policies
- Low business costs - Reduced business costs due to cheap energy rates and fewer work disruptions from natural disasters because of the country’s geographic position under the hurricane belt
- Cost Effective - Low transportation costs resulting in reduced agricultural processing operational costs which make crop outputs more competitively priced on the open market.
- Local and Regional Demand - Large and increasing demand for fresh, organic and local produce which can serve the local and regional markets in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Developed Industry - Mature manufacturing and logistics sectors which would facilitate the export and off-take of local produce
- Market Access - Trinidad and Tobago through multi and bilateral trade agreements has access to over 947 million people globally with 16 million located in the CARICOM single market.
Investment Opportunities exist in the following areas
Food Processing Facilities
- Fresh cut chilled and preserved vegetables and fruits
- Frozen root crops, vegetables and fruits
- Dried root crops, vegetables and fruits
- Frozen meals (ready to serve)
- Juice and beverage line
- Sauces line
- Canning line
- Bottling line
- Primary Cocoa Production
- Primary Cocoa Processing Facility
- Cocoa Estate Purchase and Revitalization
- High-End Chocolate Manufacturing
- Cocoa by-product manufacturing
- Cocoa for Medicinal Uses
- Cocoa Estate Investment
Fish and Fish Processing Opportunities
- Fish production and processing
- Fish processing
- Pepper Mash Production
- Pepper processing including weapon grade pepper and anti-fouling boat paint
For more information on opportunities in this sector contact:
Ms. Takiyah De Four
Manager Investor Sourcing
Tel: 1(868) 225-4688 Ext. 22451(868) 225-4688
 FDI intelligence 2013
 Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago