Liaquat Ali

Shastri Boodan

Trinidad Parboil Limited is still expecting to open T&T’s first rice parboiling plant on schedule, according to the company CEO Liaquat Ali.

Speaking to Guardian media yesterday, Ali said while the current State of Emergency had slowed down the progress of the plant, he plans to open before the end of 2022.

“We have a slight setback in terms of the lockdown, in terms of the construction and site preparation but we are hoping and are still optimistic that we can get the job done within 18 months,” Ali said in a telephone interview.

The sod for the startup of construction of the multi-million dollar facility at Milton, Couva, was turned on April 9, 2021.

Yesterday, Ali said they had received positive feedback on the news of the plant’s startup.

“After we turned the sod on the 9 of April this year, we had a lot of inquiries from people who were in rice before and they want to get back into the industry. People who are in rice are seeing some level of hope going forward into the future of rice production in T&T.”

He said a large number of people who had been involved in rice production previously, have since indicated to them that they plan to get involved in the industry once again, since parboiled rice can add value to their product.

Ali said some farmers who got two-acre plots when Caroni (1975) Limited folded its operations have also expressed interest in planting rice during the rainy season.

“A few of them have indicated to me that they don’t mind trying a crop of rice in the rainy season, when there would be abundant water,” Ali said, adding rice production also has the advantage of not being easily accessible to thieves.

However, he said rice for their startup operations will initially be sourced from Guyana until production rises in T&T.

“Until such time, the raw stock, the paddy, would come from Guyana to keep the mill running until we bring up the local stock in a couple of years,” he said.

The plant can process around five tonnes per hour.