Interest in revitalizing agricultural production has grown in recent years, and with this has come the increased relevance of the use of technology in agriculture and allied industries.
The benefits of the agriculture and agri-food industries have been highlighted, particularly in light of the disruptions to the global supply chain resulting from covid19 and the challenges here in Trinidad and Tobago with acquiring foreign exchange to maintain the import requirements.
Last month one such company, Novo Farms Ltd (part of the Novo Group) was named a finalist in the Business Technology category (sponsored by bmobile) of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Champions of Business awards. from Trinidad and Tobago. Although the award ultimately went to medl Ltd, Novo Farms certainly remains a champion.
Founded four years ago by technology entrepreneur Glen Ramdhani, Novo’s goal is to bring transformational change within the agricultural sector using innovation. It started out as an agro-tech start-up, cultivating foreign crops such as romaine lettuce, leafy greens and berries, using a branded tech platform to replicate the temperate climatic conditions right here at TT.
The initial period was also used for research, development and careful planning for the implementation of their four-phase approach to the agricultural sector.
The first, an agri-food processing facility, was commissioned on September 12, 2021. The facility was established at a cost of TT $ 60 million (obtained equally from loan and equity) . This is intended to be the foundation for future expansion in the agricultural sector, using innovation as a catalyst.
Novo has assimilated its extensive technology experience into the agri-food processing initiative which has the ability to monitor the analysis of crop data and trace elements of the farmer’s products. The technology also includes solutions that enable a full value-added farmer-to-consumer experience.
Through this business, Ramdhani hopes to have an impact on the local food supply and meet the need to bring in affordable, high-quality local produce, while providing a fair return for local farmers.
The factory has started production and already has 18 products available. In the interest of health and quality, these include a mix of salads, fries from locally grown roots (which offer nutritious alternatives to imported products) and freshly cut, ready-to-cook vegetables.
Their portfolio should expand to 45 products by the end of December with the launch of a frozen line. This should double by the end of January 2022 with the commissioning and launch of an export line which
Kes agricultural products down the processing chain into high value products targeting international customers.
Currently, the facility’s products are available at a number of local supermarkets, including the Massy chain store. Novo has also launched its own online retail store at http://www.lifenovo.co.
Customers have the option of having their purchases delivered to their door in a specially designed box that keeps produce fresh. And soon, Novo will launch a new retail experience using innovation with artificial intelligence to enable customers to purchase healthy meals prepared in two minutes.
Besides purchasing locally grown produce, the company is committed to working with farmers in other ways. Some have benefited from seed money invested in growing crops specifically identified for Novo production while meeting the highest standards required.
Novo also offers smart garden units to help homeowners get started with gardening projects. Buyers of these units not only have the satisfaction of growing their own produce, but if they meet certain conditions, they can resell the excess produce to the Novo processing plant – a win-win solution, one might say.
With business technology innovators like Glen Ramdhani, the Board of Trade knows our future looks bright.