The Digicel Trinidad and Tobago Foundation continues to invest in initiatives that promote agricultural sustainability, economic growth and entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago. Early this year, the Roxborough Police Youth Club received a grant from the Foundation’s EPIC (Extraordinary Projects Impacting Communities) programme to upgrade its hydroponics greenhouse farm in Tobago. The greenhouse supplies fresh produce for the community and encourages young people to learn about the agricultural industry. The Roxborough Police Youth Club was founded more than 30 years ago as a non-profit organisation with a vision to be “the premiere agency for fostering growth of empowered, well-rounded, independent and disciplined youth.” To this day, it continues to be an important resource for children and other vulnerable populations in Tobago.
At the centre of the Foundation’s EPIC grant is the Police Youth Club’s greenhouse farm, where a number of state-of-the-art hydroponic techniques are used. Hydroponics refers to the growth of plants in environments other than soil and has great potential for agriculture on the island. In a celebratory recap video released by The Digicel Trinidad and Tobago Foundation, Edmond Joseph from Majestik Growers walked through a few of the facility’s features, including atrium reservoirs, drip irrigation, deep water culture (DCW), stack pods, nutrient film (NFT) and floating raft systems. With the Foundation’s TT$100,00 donation, the greenhouse also installed five new 1,000-gallon water tanks for rainwater collection.
The official launch date of the upgraded hydroponics farm was the 29th of April 2022. The renovations are a tremendous step forward for food security and economic development in Tobago.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony of the greenhouse’s expansion, Police Youth Club staff elaborated on the project’s perfect timing given the country’s food import bill. With this expansion, the facility now has the capacity to grow nearly 3,000 short crops, such as lettuce, celery and kale. This fresh produce can then be sent to local businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries.
There is also a strong community sentiment for food with better dietary value and immune-boosting nutrients. Members of the Digicel Trinidad and Tobago Foundation’s leadership team touched on how the upgraded greenhouse helps the Roxborough community be self-sufficient and sustainable with healthy food sources.
Collis Hazel, founder of the Police Youth Club, described how the centre’s educational initiatives will also be expanded with the Foundation’s help. By offering more immersive and unconventional training, the Police Youth Club can raise awareness around agriculture as a career path for young farmers.
To that end, the new greenhouse will also support the island’s economic development through the creation of jobs. A total of 30 young farmers will participate in the centre’s training program each growing cycle and are eligible to earn a salary from produce sales.
The Digicel Trinidad and Tobago Foundation’s EPIC programme has contributed TT$450,000 to non-profit organisations in 2022. So far, 192,349 individuals have benefited from 549 projects.