Thursday, Match 2, 2017 ENERGY company BP Trinidad and Tobago has entered into a unique partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) to implement a business hatchery programme in agro-processing for young entrepreneurs from the wider Mayaro community. The project, titled “Youth Entrepreneurship in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), was launched recently with 20 participants in the first of three phases at the bpTT Mayaro Resource Centre (MRC). The first training session centred on ‘Techniques for making Signature Sauces into Successful Businesses’. The second and third phases which will be conducted in March, will concentrate on ‘Processing of Candied Fruits’ and ‘Processing of Vegetable Pickles’, respectively. The agri-business initiative is the brainchild of Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat, to develop avenues to foster entrepreneurship, new business creation and employment generation among the youths of the Mayaro/Rio Claro region. Standing in for the Minister at the official launch was Parliamentary Secretary Avinash Singh, who underscored the commitment of the Ministry in partnering with the corporate sector to develop sustainable employment opportunities in agriculture. “We are happy that bpTT has come on board to make this initiative a reality. Agriculture is a business and you have to be profitable to stay in it. These workshops are designed to develop entrepreneurs in specific agri-business enterprise. The opportunity is here, take it,” Senator Singh told the participants. He appealed to the budding entrepreneurs to look at the opportunity “not only in dollars and cents but to enjoy it if you want to stay in it.” Joel Primus, Community Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations Advisor, bpTT, said the company was honoured to support the YEAP initiative because “we believe in fostering development through youth training in enterprise development and through education. “The exciting part of this programme is that it aims to introduce young people to the business side of agriculture. It has added significance because it focuses on the young people of the Mayaro/Rio Claro region. As you may know, we call Mayaro our host community,” Primus noted. Primus also pointed out that successful YEAP participants can access funding from bpTTs’s Mayaro Initiative for Private Enterprise Development (MIPED), which provides funding for medium and small businesses. CARIRI’s Chief Executive Officer, Liaquat Ali Shah, told the participants that the initiative called for commitment and perseverance to find out if they possessed “the feel” for entrepreneurship. He lauded bpTT for providing the opportunity to implement the vision of Minister Rambharat. The workshop has come at the right time for Qeisha Casimir, a caterer. “I run a catering business and if I can make my own pepper sauce and seasonings, it would mean a significant saving for me. I intend to take full advantage of this opportunity to enhance my business,” said an excited Casimir. Implemented by CARIRI’s Bio-technology Unit, the first phase of the YEAP initiative centred on the production of pepper sauce, barbecue sauce and green seasoning demonstration.