News Date: March 23 2018
Agriculture advisor to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Dr John Alleyne, is urging pineapple growers to move quickly to secure a patent on a unique variety of the fruit currently under cultivation in Tableland, south Trinidad.
Dr Alleyne issued the alert while addressing the opening of the TechAGRI Expo on the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) yesterday. He stood in for an absent Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat.
According to Dr Alleyne, the country has already lost exclusive rights to the now world-famous Moruga Scorpion pepper and the indigenous Double Chaconia and the same can now happen with the Tableland Sugar Loaf pineapple hybrid if T&T does not move fast.
He urged greater collaboration between producers and institutions such as UWI, the relevant regional and international agencies and the government to ensure that the indigenous pineapple variety remains under national ownership via patents.
“Now is the moment to get national (farmers’) bodies tied into UWI,” he argued, in an effort to ensure that farmers in the field receive the research and development support of the university.
Speaking briefly with T&T Guardian, executive director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Barton Clarke said securing IP rights is an indispensable part of development in the sector and unique hybrid varieties are being recognised in a variety of other crops throughout the region.
Advisor to the Pineapple Farmers Association, Omadath Maharaj said work has already started on securing such intellectual property (IP) rights when it came to the hybrid variety, known for its size and unique taste.
He explained that farmers already enjoy a ready market “for all the pineapples they grow” and the scope for value-added processing was limited, so far, given the scale of production and the heavy demand for fresh fruit.
Maharaj said a preliminary meeting had already been held with the IP Office of the Ministry of Legal Affairs to begin the process of securing a patent.
He, however, said the sector also needs to capture the “indigenous knowledge” of current farmers who have worked to propagate the unique variety.