TT – The Codrington Family Institute became the first steelpan manufacturers to receive money from the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s steelpan manufacturing grant fund facility at the ministry’s head office in Nicholas Towers Port of Spain on Wednesday.
When CEO Kaijah Codrington 28 left school at 18 he started making steelpans. The Codrington family has a legacy of playing arranging and making steelpans.
In 2017 making steelpans officially became his business and he handcrafts steelpans at the institute. To ramp up his manufacturing process the institute received $83 199.85 to buy a pneumatic sand rammer to compress the drum and tuning software.
Manually I can produce five pans in a week. That is not going to satisfy any market. With the tools I can produce 25 pans…We need to get away from manual labour. This is an art. The tools are going to help Codrington said.
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the development of local steelpan manufacturing for export has the potential to increase local employment in the industry boost foreign exchange generation and promote economic diversification through positive spillover effects on other products and industries.
In 2017 the Economic Development Advisory Board did a study on the steelpan manufacturing industry which showed revenue amounted to $23 530 830 that year and employed 150 people.
Of this figure local sales revenues were estimated at $7 493 974 and total exports were $16 036 856 of which regional exports were $4 792 074 and international exports were $11 244 782.
Leading steelpan importers include countries such as St Vincent and the Grenadines Belize UK US and Japan.
Notwithstanding these inroads made into the global markets the local steelpan industry still requires a number of key elements in order to realise its full potential. One of these elements is the requisite financial input to boost production capacity Gopee-Scoon said.
In January the steelpan grant facility valued at $5 million was launched to provide support to local steelpan manufacturers to buy machinery equipment software tools raw material and training.
All steelpan manufacturers and tuners who are TT nationals are registered businesses and operating in the country can apply for the grant.
Kent Vieira MD of Kent Farms Ltd was also given $176 317.20 from the ministry’s grant fund facility for small and medium-sized enterprises.
This fund is applicable for manufacturing agriculture and agro-processing financial services maritime services creative industries software design and applications fish and fish processing and aviation services.
Kent Farms is a 20-year old company that nurses and grows tilapia fish for processing. It has 44 acres of land in Orange Grove Tacarigua.
Kent is using the fund to get new machinery and equipment for a feed mill so the company can supply itself and sustain its fish nursing and processing operations with locally manufactured feed as opposed to imported feed saving foreign exchange.
That’s what we want the minister said.
The new machinery and equipment are also capable of producing dog chow which Kent Farms will soon introduce to the local market.
That is what they are doing. They are diversifying the economy she said.