TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – The Caribbean Investment Forum, to be held November 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad and Tobago, is an opportunity for investors to explore the extraordinary opportunities in the Caribbean region. One speaker at the Forum, Ralph Birkhoff, Senior Partner & Principal, Alquimi Renewables, LLC, knows first hand that this region is ripe for investment in sustainable development, particularly climate-resilient protected agriculture and integrated renewable energy systems based on his experiences.
“After having lived in the region for over a decade, and being from Canada,” Birkhoff said. I realized that many of these fresh produce categories have to be imported as there is not the agricultural infrastructure here to service the local demand with the types of fresh, healthy, delicious produce we’re accustomed to in more developed markets.”
Birkhoff, living and working then as an investor and consultant in the region, realized that many of the types of imported produce sold across the island supermarkets simply could not be grown by traditional means in the region. This gap in the market prompted Birkhoff and his partners at Alquimi Renewables to focus on developing a climate smart greenhouse prototype; one that was adaptable to the unique context of Caribbean islands and resistant to the deadly Category 5 hurricanes that frequent the region, as well as being energy and water efficient. Alquimi’s greenhouses are designed for sub-tropical zones using various integrated hydroponic systems that can grow these types of produce locally, reducing the need for imports.
Collaborating with local, regional and international investment interests, Alquimi supports the successful implementation and expansion of Greenhouse Farm Projects under their two brands. Island Growers Caribbean (IGC) and BerryCove Organic Farms, Trinidad & Tobago’s first commercially scaled climate-smart hydroponic greenhouse farm.
Alquimi and their investor partners are adding to food security in Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, and Barbados, with plans to expand in 2023 to Guyana,Saint Lucia, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, and many other islands across the region in the coming years.
Threats to the Caribbean Region
“Because of the constant risk of annual tropical storms that would destroy a standard greenhouse,” Birkhoff said. “We needed to develop an innovative system that would meet the specific threats of the region. In addition, provide investors with risk mitigation to ensure that our investments wouldn’t be affected once operational. Because of the many inherent climate risks in our region, current farms and greenhouse systems don’t qualify for insurance to protect their assets. We changed that dynamic and were the first greenhouse farms to be commercially insured in the region.
Alquimi, like many entrepreneurial companies building solutions for the Caribbean shared that indeed the toughest part of the development process of this new greenhouse technology, was getting investors to understand that this is uncharted territory in this region, and that every step and approval we require is a unique one. “For instance we were the first applicant ever to receive permission to import live berry plant stock from Europe into Trinidad”.
“Being transparent with investors is important,” he said. “Everything we’re doing is quite new to the region. We’re introducing new technologies and engineering solutions at every turn because of the region’s unique weather and climate conditions. While these same technologies can be expanded to areas that are less prone to threatening tropical storms, they still need to be engineered for the most extreme local environments. We never know when a Category 5 storm is going to take aim at our facilities – only that some day they will.”
Alquimi has also recently established Advanced Hydroponic Systems in Trinidad, which designs, engineers and fabricates customized commercial hydroponic systems for sale and export. “We see a tremendous opportunity for growth in this unique manufacturing sector to support the expanding regional and international CEA sector.”
Ralph Birkhoff will join dozens of other speakers and hundreds of attendees at the Caribbean Investment Forum. The forum is scheduled for November 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad and Tobago. The forum will provide potential investors with information and direct access to leaders throughout the region. Especially those who are creating the innovative solutions the region needs. Plus for those that savvy investors can benefit from financially.
“The revenue expectations from expanded agricultural production for this region are impressive,” Birkhoff said. “Providing this region with additional food security and helping to develop renewable energy solutions the region needs for the next century, are not only key to the region’s development, but are outstanding opportunities for investors to realize a solid return while making a lasting difference for the people.”
Entrepreneurs and investors interested in attending the Caribbean Investment Forum can learn more and register at http://www.caribbeaninvestmentforum.com.