Government expands access to subsidies for alternatives to flour

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Akeila Dalrymple, owner of Heavenly Bliss, chats with a customer about alternative flour products at the Namdevco Farmers Market, held in Endeavor Road, Chaguanas, on July 9. – ROGER JACOB

The GOVERNMENT has extended its support to local producers of alternatives to wheat flour, in response to the escalation of world wheat prices.

In a statement on Friday, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the aim of the initiative was to encourage domestic production of alternatives to wheat flour.

“As a result, funding under the Grant Fund Facility will now be available for 75%, up to a maximum of $340,000.00 (approximately US$50,000.00) of the cost of new machinery and equipment acquired. to make alternatives to wheat flour.”

Gopee-Scoon said: “The government remains committed to ensuring that all avenues are explored to minimize the impact of rising food prices, which are beyond Trinidad and Tobago’s control and are symptomatic of the current global food crisis among a myriad of other factors.

“Notwithstanding the announcement by the main local wheat flour producers that the price increase on the domestic market is temporary, the situation presents an opportunity for all producers of alternatives to wheat flour.

The ministry anticipates that the grant funding will create opportunities for new flour producers using alternative sources, especially locally sourced root crops, and lead to an increase in the overall production of wheat flour alternatives.

These include coconut, sweet potato, dasheen, cassava, breadfruit, plantain, and pigeon pea flour, and other non-origin options. local products such as oatmeal and cornmeal/maize flour.

The initiative complements the current efforts of the National Marketing Development Corporation (Namdevco), which continues to encourage the public to use root flour as an alternative to wheat flour.

Namdevco said, “Monitoring records indicate consistent quarterly productions of 1.15 million kg of sweet potatoes and 1.07 million kg of cassava which can easily be converted into root meal.”

These data show that farmers continue to successfully produce a wide range of root crops despite external factors that can affect production, including climate change.

The ministry said: “Although alternatives to wheat flour may not be cheaper than wheat flour in the short term, it is expected that the concomitant increase in the supply of alternatives to root crops translates into an overall lower price for consumers.

In addition to contributing to food security, exploring alternatives to wheat/white flour offers an opportunity to promote and improve the nutritional status of the population.

The Department of Trade and Industry said it was working with the Department of Health to “continue to outline and highlight initiatives that can contribute to a healthier nation”.

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