Former CEO of Caroni Green Limited Sharma Lalla ,left, gives a gift of hot peppers to Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambarat in this July 10, 2016 photo when Caroni Green participated on the Trade and Investment Convention at Macoya .

Shastri Boodan

T&T can still get into the business of producing and exporting pepper spray.

Sharma Lalla, the former CEO of the now-defunct Caroni Green Limited, said this country may not have missed the boat.

When Lalla took over the show at Caroni Green, the company was exporting over 1.5 million pounds of pepper, had well over $1 million dollars in the bank.

He said the audited reports of the company would have indicated that Caroni Green funded its own operations from 2015-2017 with no financial support from the Government.

Lalla said no explanation was given by the government why they choose to further put the squeeze on agriculture and fold Caroni Green in April 2017.

Lalla told Guardian Media, “We were producing peppers and paw paw on 100 acres, we had entered into the export market and our peppers were doing very well. Our plans were to enter into downstream production to monetize our local peppers. The company had purchased a pepper grinding machine for $75,000. It was stored at Brechin Castle, Couva and I don’t know what became of it. We had entered into talks with growers of the Moruga Scorpion Pepper and the next stage was to enter into production to extract the capsicum from the pepper. Capsicum is used pepper spray production.

The demand for non-lethal self-defense items as pepper spray is seeing a global demand, and there is now and local demand for pepper spray. If Caroni Green was not shut down a few years ago we would have by now diversified into the production of pepper mash, which the country has to import and the production of capsicum. We had then entered into talks with several local private sector business operations who were more than willing to partner with us for these products. T&T has the Moruga Scorpion, one of the hottest peppers in the world, and it is not being monetized in a way that it should.”

Lalla said it is not too late to revive Caroni Green Limited since all the infrastructure the company existed in is still available. Lalla is also an executive member of the Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce and was the CEO of Caroni (1975) limited from 1998-2002.