T&T Cocoa Growers Receive Solar-Powered Facility

May 9th, 2024


T&T Cocoa Growers Receive Solar-Powered Facility Photo 1
(L-R) Adrian Thomas – ReNewTT, Tobias Frenking – OTC Cluster Lead, Trijata Maraj – Digicel Foundation Director, Dr. Darin Sukha, – UWI Cocoa research Centre and Shawn Sajad -OTC, pose together during the unveiling of the new Climate Smart Cocoa Storage facility on March 27th 2024.

With cocoa prices having doubled since the start of 2024, cocoa growers in Trinidad and Tobago now have an added facility for their high-quality beans.

Using a $100,000 grant from Shell Trinidad and Tobago and Digicel Foundation’s Extraordinary Projects Impacting Communities (EPIC) programme, the Original Trinitario Cocoa Education Foundation (OTC) converted a transport container into a solar-powered storage unit for cocoa beans at the University of the West Indies’ Cocoa Research Centre at St Augustine.

T&T Cocoa Growers Receive Solar-Powered Facility Photo 2
(L-R) Digicel Foundation Head of Operations Cindyann Currency gives her remarks alongside Tobias Frenking of the Original Trinitario Cocoa Education Foundation (OTC) during the unveiling of the new Climate Smart Cocoa Storage facility.

The unit, which has air-conditioning and a humidifier to help preserve the quality of the beans, will help reduce losses and improve storage opportunities for cocoa farmers. OTC spokesperson Tobias Frenking explained, “The unit has five solar panels, harnessing the power of the sun to operate more sustainably. This initiative marks a crucial step in our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable practices.”

Apart from keeping the beans fresh for use and sale, the storage unit also has remote monitoring and is completely off-grid.

T&T Cocoa Growers Receive Solar-Powered Facility Photo 3
Adrian Thomas of ReNewTT displays the solar powered advantages of the newly unveiled Climate Smart Cocoa Storage facility on March 27th, 2024.

Cindyann Currency, Head of Operations for the Digicel Foundation, was on site for the storage unit’s official unveiling. “We loved the innovation from the OTC,” she said. “Their project is embracing innovation and promoting sustainability. This is EPIC at its best!

This year’s EPIC Programme received a significant boost with Shell Trinidad and Tobago on board as co-sponsor of the grant. Currency shared, “This year we had an EPIC partnership with Shell Trinidad and Tobago, and with that we have seen an increase in innovation and progressive projects that have included renewable energy. This is what true partnerships do, it takes you to another level.”

T&T is one of just eight countries that produce 100% fine cocoa. The Cocoa Research Centre (CRC), which opened in 1930, is one of the oldest cocoa research institutions still operating and has the largest public collection of cocoa types in the world.

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