NICHE MARKETING OF LETTUCE - TRINIDAD
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CTA. 1996. NICHE MARKETING OF LETTUCE - TRINIDAD. Spore 61. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47228
In Trinidad vegetables and short-term root crops are largely the province of small farmers operating on farms of 0.2 ha to 2 ha, with the great majority on less than 1 ha. Given the small land area, high value, quick growing crops offer the best...
In Trinidad vegetables and short-term root crops are largely the province of small farmers operating on farms of 0.2 ha to 2 ha, with the great majority on less than 1 ha. Given the small land area, high value, quick growing crops offer the best potential to such farmers. Produce is marketed mainly through small wholesalers and retailers who buy direct from growers. Certain supermarkets are now becoming established as suppliers of fresh local vegetables and an increasing number of farmers are selling directly to them. The combination of increasing prices and a policy framework which has sought to encourage local production of vegetables has offered opportunities for enterprising individuals to make relatively high incomes from this sector of agriculture. However the June December wet season places limitations on the traditional outdoor systems owing to: impact of raindrops which can damage or dislodge young plants; high soil moisture that can effect cultural operations and water. logging; high incidence of diseases and pests; and flooding of low lying areas. These problems stimulated some growers to consider alternative systems including soil-less culture (hydroponics) as a means of fulfilling demand. In addition to overcoming many of the problems inherent in wet season cultivation of vegetables the use of such systems also obviates the need to have irrigation facilities for dry season cultivation. The high cost of establishing such systems can be offset by the high prices which are possible, especially for out of season produce. This is demonstrated by a case study of a 'backyard' producer of lettuce in Trinidad using the hydroponic nutrient film technique on an area of 15,000 square feet (1,700 m2). The farm family of four (husband, wife and two sons) depends entirely on income from the farm. The farmer and his sons work full-time on the farm and in addition they employ three other workers full-time. Undoubtedly the farmer is innovative and is not afraid to experiment. However, he does not take undue risks. He started small, gained experience before expanding and now appears to be successful, owning a comfortable house with modem amenities. His niche is the existing and expanding market for fresh, clean, well-presented lettuce. Fast food outlets and the trend towards health foods, with its emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables, could increase demand. However, the farmer is aware that movements towards organic farming and ecological agriculture could influence people away from soil-less agriculture. Therefore he is investigating the production of flowering plants, particularly poinsettias.