Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 11, 2016 (SKNIS): The link between hydroponics food production and agro-processing was made when Stuart LaPlace, Research and Hydroponics Scientist at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) appeared on “Working for You” on March 09.
Along with Hugh Heyliger, Economist and CFBC Director of Institutional Development, Mr. LaPlace was able to speak of the multi-sectoral benefits of hydroponics farming which is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil or in a material such as perlite or gravel.
Mr. LaPlace said that the produce from hydroponics farms can supply ingredients for agro-processors.
“It certainly ensures the reliability of supply to the agro-processor,” Mr. LaPlace explained. “So the agro-processors themselves could also be growing their produce.”
The CFBC Research and Hydroponics Scientist elaborated on agro-processing itself.
“The sphere of agro-processing is wide,” he said. “Sometimes you might have a lot of produce being put out there. You might have a glut on the market, and there’s nowhere for your produce to go. It might be perishable so it has a very short shelf life. A lot of that can now go into making ketchup and paste, juice, you name it. I mean the scope is very wide.”
The possibilities for creatively coming up with a means of utilizing produce are wide open, Mr. LaPlace further elaborated.
“There’s also other avenues for persons to be innovative in finding a way of utilizing produce,” he said. “A lot of persons who sell fruits would normally repackage those into fruit bowls and that type of stuff, if they don’t sell by a particular time. So it (hydroponics) is very similar. You just have to be innovative and find ways (to utilize the produce), but in terms of agro-processing – that (hydroponics) could speak specifically to agro-processing as well.”
Mr. LaPlace also revealed that CFBC is investigating the concept of a “you pick farm,” such as those in Europe in North America, where individuals can pay a fee in order to obtain a container to pick fruit or vegetables at leisure.