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Naparima College Promoting Agricultural Innovation

FRIDAY 26 APRIL 2024, PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – In a true example of community spirit, the young men of Naparima College have been growing produce at their school to provide fresh garden greens for students-in-need, as well as neighbouring homes for the elderly. Their small-scale efforts were rewarded last year when the school’s Interact Club won an Extraordinary Projects Impacting Communities (EPIC) grant of $100,000 from the Digicel Foundation in partnership with Shell Trinidad and Tobago to expand their solar-powered vertical hydroponic garden.

On 23 April 2024, the Naparima College Interact Club unveiled 10 newly installed SolarPonix units to the media and major stakeholders. The SolarPonix is a mobile hydroponic unit that uses climate-smart, green technology to monitor crop growth and moisture, therefore reducing water wastage. Additionally, the grant covered the cost to install solar panels to power the units as well as the school’s entire science block.

As part of their EPIC project, the Interact club members donated two SolarPonix units to the nearby JC McDonald Home for the Aged and the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities. The youth helped with the installation, provided training to the residents and staff and shared knowledge of the science behind the farming system.

The next step for these eco-minded students is the launch of their own Green Market in June – ‘Naps Market’. “By hosting Naps Market, we will help strengthen our local food system by addressing issues of food security and malnutrition while promoting sustainable agriculture, health and wellness throughout the community,” explained Bryan Balkissoon, President of Naparima College Interact Club Junior.

Digicel Foundation’s Board Director Pamela Sankar shared, “Knowing that the young men at this school have been directly involved in implementation of this high-tech farming project warms my heart.  But what really sold us on the partnership was the community aspect of the project – helping yourselves and your immediate school community is congratulatory, however, to include others that are more vulnerable is what really makes the world spin and for that we applaud you.”

Ryssa Brathwaite, Shell T&T Performance and Social Investment Adviser, commended the students on the initiative, stating "You're nurturing resilience (and) self-sufficiency within the school and the surrounding community. Harnessing the power of that very hot sun to reduce the electricity bills of the schools, and feeding your wider community, to the green market – it really takes this project to a whole other level." Principal Ali thanked the corporate stakeholders for investing in Naparima College and promoting agricultural innovation in such a sustainable way.  To date, there are 150 EPIC projects across Trinidad and Tobago impacting over 88,000 persons through an investment of TT$7.2 million by the Digicel Foundation.

Digicel Foundation | Trinidad and Tobago

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