Country Listing

Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

Caribbean Islands

Livestock, Fishing, and Forestry

Livestock activity was not as developed as other areas of agriculture. Although livestock was targeted for generous subsidies and government programs, only the poultry and pork industries were very developed. The country's beef and dairy industries in particular were lacking. Pork was consumed in large quantities, and except for a few specialty items such as ham and bacon, the country was self-sufficient in pork. Beef production was very low; less than one-third of the estimated 30,000 head of cattle were dedicated to beef production. Most beef was imported from New Zealand and Australia. Water buffalo were also present, however, generally tended by rural East Indians. In the late 1980s, farmers were experimenting with a cattle-buffalo hybrid appropriately called a "buffalypso." Dairy production was inadequate, and the islands were about 90-percent dependent on imported milk, handled almost exclusively by Trinidad Food Products, a subsidiary of Nestlé. In fact, Trinidad and Tobago had the smallest percentage of its farmland used as pastures in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The fishing potential of Trinidad and Tobago continued to be underutilized in the 1980s despite numerous generous government subsidies instituted to promote the industry. Fish was an important part of the national diet, especially among Tobagonians. Catches of fish, including kingfish, grouper, redfish, snapper, shrimp, and tuna, totaled about 3 million kilograms per year in the first half of the 1980s. There were over sixty fishing beaches on Trinidad and Tobago, but only a few had adequate facilities to exploit the coast's potential. Most deep-sea trawling activity occurred in the Gulf of Paria, which continued to spark territorial water disputes with Venezuela. Although an important mutual fishing agreement was signed between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago in 1985, there remained signs that disagreements persisted (see Foreign Relations, this ch.). Although inland fisheries were expanding rapidly in the 1980s, they were still only small in scale and were a governmentrun activity. Despite strong institutional support for the industry in general, such as from the National Fisheries Company, the Fisheries Development Fund, and the Caribbean Fisheries Training Institute, inefficient methods still prevailed, preventing fisherman from meeting local demand.

The forestry industry was small considering that about 45 percent of the islands were forested. There existed sixty-two small sawmills that fed the local furniture industry and a match factory. Wood was also used for firewood and charcoal, and many exotic woods were exported in small quantities. Production in the 1980s exceeded 5 million board meters annually. Large tracts of forestland were owned by the government and have been held as preserves since the 1700s. Because Trinidad and Tobago was geologically tied to South America, there existed a rich variety of woods, sixty species of which were commercially lumbered. Nonetheless, the islands were not self-sufficient in wood products and relied on imports to meet local demand. Some reforestation programs were implemented in the 1980s to prevent creeping erosion.

Data as of November 1987