Ranking high on the world performance charts are two agricultural products of Trinidad and Tobago which have traditionally made a mark for this country without any fuss or bother for many years.
Described as ”Home to one of the world’s longest continuous cocoa variety breeding programmes initiated in 1930”, Trinidad and Tobago’s Moruga Scorpion pepper was also rated “the hottest naturally growing pepper in the world at over 2m Scovile units (SHUs) by the New Mexico State university’s Chile Pepper Institute in 2012.
Each pepper contains as much as much capsaicin as 25 mls of police grade pepper spray, official sources here stated.
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In a world where fine/flavour cocoa accounts for a mere 5 % of cocoa production, TT is one of eight fine/flavour producers with unique hybrids of Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero fetching a premium price on the world market.
This country is in high demand by world chocolatiers, the authorities have stated. In this regard, La Reunion and San Juan are the only estates in the Caribbean to have won the prestigious Salon du Chocolate award. WE Freeman in the 1940’s.
In terms of pepper, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper (<1.5m SHUs) ranks just below the Moruga Scorpion pepper. Other varieties of pepper in Trinidad include the 7-Pot (800,000-1m) SHUs the Doughlah and Habanero (<500,000 SHUs)
According to the Minstry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, the Cocoa research in Trinidad and Tobago emanated from a rich tradition of classical research conducted by famous scientists such as Dr. F. J. Pound, Dr V. Quesnel and WE Freeman in the 1940’s.
The Cocoa Research Section of the Research Division in the Ministry of Food Production is located on the La Reunion Estate at Caroni North Bank Road, Centeno.
The La Reunion Estate is comprised of 200 ha of commercial/research cocoa fields. It also houses a cocoa processing facility, which is perhaps the best example of an effective, ergonomic system for bean processing.
“One of the major achievements of the section was the production of the Trinidad Selected Hybrids (popularly known as TSH cocoa varieties). These varieties show high resistance to disease, are early bearing, have a low pod index and display excellent fine or flavour characteristics. “, the Ministry stated in its official web site.
The TSH varieties are recognised internationally as the products of one of the most successful breeding programmes. It serves as a genetic base for current and future breeding activities.
Associated Brands Industries Limited (ABIL) describes itself as “the leading manufacturer and distributor of snack foods, chocolate, confectionery, biscuits and breakfast cereals in the Caribbean”.
The company has been in existence since 1974 and over the years has built up an extensive portfolio of brands including a range of about 216 sku’s under the brand names Sunshine Snacks, Charles Candy, Devon Biscuits and Sunshine and Universal Cereals.