BPTT unearths energy at National Day of Caring

DESPITE the inclement weather, more than 160 volunteers answered the call of BP Trinidad and Tobago, turning out on Sunday to implement the second phase of its food production project in its continued support of United Way of Trinidad and Tobago’s National Day of Caring (NDOC).

For 2016, the energy company collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries to cultivate and harvest short-term crops at three locations across Trinidad. On hand to give active support to the initiative was Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat who visited all three farms and joined the bpTT volunteers in planting various types of seedlings.

At the end of the day’s labour, an enthused Rambharat stated: “I am very pleased with the level of enthusiasm and interest demonstrated by the bpTT volunteers at the locations. This project successfully melds a number of critical concepts including the importance of agriculture, supporting our local farmers, reducing our food import bill, and working toward food security, and it also underlines the importance of giving back to society. This is a timely initiative by bpTT and I was especially pleased to note that many of the volunteers are young people. This exercise goes beyond planting seedlings and speaks to planting a positive concept in the minds of our future leaders who will tend the growth of our nation.”

“Also, as a former bpTT employee myself, I am pleased to partner with them as they utilise the Ministry’s expertise, knowledge and resources and merge it with human energy and their committment to social responsibility through this project that will benefit many people,” the Minister added.

The day of planting represents the second phase of the project that started on May 14th when volunteers helped prepare the land at the farms in Wallerfield, Orange Grove and Rio Claro. The project will culminate with the bpTT volunteers harvesting the short-term crops such as cabbage, melongene, pumpkin, cauliflower, sweet pepper and patchoi and distributing them to homes for children and the elderly.

Ronda Francis, Corporate Responsibility Manager, bpTT, led the volunteers in setting pumpkin seedlings at the Orange Grove farm. “Over the past few years we’ve partnered with homes for children and the elderly as well as Habitat for Humanity. This year we decided to partner with the Ministry of Agriculture. We believe that this approach of collaboration epitomises the bpTT core value of ‘One Team’. I want to thank every single volunteer for being a part of the ‘One Team’ that has already made this project a success. Your efforts will help many people, but you have also set an example of what caring means, not for one day, but every single day as we work to build a better nation,” Francis told the bpTT staffers.

Leading the bpTT team at Rio Claro was Matthew Pierre, Community Liaison Officer, while Rachael Caines, Corporate Responsibility Adviser, bpTT, spearheaded the team of volunteers at Wallerfield. Staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries guided the volunteers, including bpTT employees, bpTT’s Brighter Prospects scholarship recipients, representatives of Mayaro-based NGOs/CBOs, and officers from the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO).

Jochelle Fortune, a geophysicist at bpTT, was enthusiastic about the overall initiative, “I was happy to volunteer because it is our responsibility to contribute and become the change that we want to see in our country. I’m proud that the company I work for engages in these projects, not just for the Day of Caring, but throughout the year. Also, I think that food security is a critical issue at this point in time and from the knowledge we’ve gained, I’m sure that a more than a few home gardeners were nurtured during this project.”

BPTT’s collaboration with United Way’s National Day of Caring started in 2013 with donation of supplies and refurbishment to 12 children’s homes. In 2014 and 2015, the company collaborated with Habitat for Humanity in building and repairing 10 homes across the country.