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Abstract

In response to mounting environmental, human health, social and economic problems in conventional agriculture, farmers and consumers in Trinidad and Tobago have started to support more organic farming. Within this movement, grassroots actions and networks have created more organic farming and marketing than have governmental policies. There is a lack of legislation regarding organic agriculture, despite the formulation of a draft policy document by a government-appointed committee. Without such legal framework, the definition, standards and methods remain open to interpretation. Between August 2007 and May 2008 the authors studied the development and philosophy of the local organic agriculture movement by conducting interviews, surveys, and engaging in participant observation. Several dispersed networks were identified, and included farmers, marketers, consumers, students, researchers, and policy-makers. Notably, there are opportunities to be certified organic through external certifiers, but the process is often too expensive for farmers selling nationally and there are no local certification alternatives. A few export-focused farms are going through the certification process, but currently there are no certified organic farms in Trinidad and Tobago. This research reveals a number of trends about successful farmer strategies, perceived motivations for organic farming, and obstacles facing this industry. Future recommendations for growth include coupling grassroots actions with formal policy measures. With a focus on public awareness and education, research and demonstration, policy intervention, and incentive creation, Trinidad and Tobago could move towards greater food security via organic food production.

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