Launching any business locally, and in particular, a food business is no easy feat. One based on goat milk however, some may say is a huge risk, especially when faced with large scale competitors such as Nestle and Moo Milk, whose share of the market is substantial and well established. Entrepreneurs face many challenging steps: development of product formulations, packaging and label designs, gaining Chemistry, Food and Drugs approvals, set up of equipment and facility, processing, staffing, marketing, sales and distribution are but a few. Yet, Mr. Lincoln Thackorie, owner of Marilissa Farms Limited, an impressive goat farm located in Penal, has thus far succeeded in traveling this meandering road.

In addition to his plain pasteurized milk available in JTA Supermarkets and Massy Stores, Mr. Thackorie partnered with The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI), utilizing the expertise of their food technologists, technicians, engineers and graphics designer, as well as their processing pilot plant facilities to expedite the development and launch of a new chocolate flavoured goat milk product.

But why goat milk when there are so many options out there like cow’s milk, soy milk and almond milk just to name a few?  The easiest answer to that would be the many health benefits associated with consuming goat’s milk and here are just a few of them:

  1. If you are lactose-intolerant, then you know the pain of never being able to enjoy dairy products, however that is not the case with goat’s milk.  Goat milk can be more completely and easily absorbed, leaving less undigested excess behind in the colon to ferment and cause the uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance. 
  2. Goats' milk is naturally slightly lower in cholesterol than cows' milk as there are nearly twice as many beneficial fatty acids, which means that our cholesterol balance can be aided by consumption of goat’s milk.
  3. Another health benefit to goats' milk and other types of products like yogurt are they are rich in calcium, a mineral indicated as important in lowering our blood pressure.
  4. Goat milk is far more nutrient-dense than cow milk, meaning that you don’t need as much of it to receive the same (or even better) nutrient intake.
  5.  Goat milk is a very rich source of protein, which is an essential part of growth and development, as proteins are the building blocks of our tissue, muscle, and bone.

Here is an interesting view from Mr Lincoln Thackorie on venturing into the goat milk business.

Q: So, why did you decide to invest in a goat farm and goat milk processing?

LT: I enjoy working with the goats. From a very young age I found myself interested in farming. I realized that there was a demand for goat meat and instead of rearing solely a meat animal; I selected a dual purpose animal so you can have both meat and milk. In terms of economics, it’s obvious that you would get better value for your money with a dual purpose animal. That being said, goat’s milk is actually more versatile than any other type of milk, even cow’s milk. There are many people who are lactose intolerant and therefore cannot drink cow’s milk. Goat milk is the perfect alternative because it contains much less lactose.   It can even be used for many other products such as cheese, ice cream and even soap. 

Q: What is your perception of the market for goat milk in Trinidad and Tobago?

LT: I believe that there is a niche market for goat milk in Trinidad and Tobago although there is taboo surrounding goat milk. Once people actually have a taste of the milk they overcome their phobia and realize how delicious it is. The important part is really to cultivate an understanding of the benefits of goat milk so that there are not any misconceptions. When that is done, the market will expand significantly.

Q: What is the greatest difficulty you face in running a goat milk business?

LT: The labour supply is definitely the greatest difficulty. Not many people want to venture into the agriculture sector, especially when it comes to animal husbandry. Labourers need to have a complete understanding of the animal and usually you’ll find that they don’t. It’s not a glamourous job but it is extremely rewarding work.

Q: What would be the best advice you can give to others entering this business?

LT: It’s important to start slowly and be very hands on so that you can learn the business and therefore grow with it.  Passion for what you do cannot be understated. The more passionate you are about what you do,  the more zeal and energy you will find. You will work harder and you will be better able to deal with any difficulties that may arise.

Q: What new products or ideas do you envision for the future that you would like to share?

LT: Goat milk is so versatile that in the future I see the product line expanding to include cheese, yogurt, ice cream and even beauty products. It is extremely important to keep introducing quality products on the market that not only taste good but are also beneficial to your health.

Try Marilissa Farms chocolate flavoured goat’s milk today! Contact: 647-5752, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information on product development, please contact CARIRI’s Biotechnology Unit at 299-0210 ext 5053 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

mushroom

Oyster mushroom (mushroom species Pleurotus ostreatus) gets its name from an uncanny resemblance to fresh-shucked oysters. Oyster mushrooms can usually be found growing on dead or decaying wood or on organic material like sawdust and straw and are classified as a fungus, similar to other mushrooms.

Oyster mushrooms caps which are shaped like fans or as the name suggest “oysters” are generally large with sizes up to 10 inches in diameter that grow in clusters like an oyster bed. The growing conditions influence the color of the mushrooms so they can be found in various colors such as grey, white, yellow, dark brown and sometimes pink.

Another reason why they are called ‘oyster mushrooms’ is that they do not typically taste like mushrooms but have a subtle oyster-like flavor. These mushrooms are also called elephant mushroom, oyster cap mushroom, tree mushroom and shimeji.  

Nutritional Benefits

Oyster mushrooms have high nutritional content including Fiber, Linoleic Acid, carbohydrate, Protein, minerals such as Zinc, Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, and vitamins like B1, B2, C, also Amino Acids, Niacin and Copper. Mushrooms are one of the few plant sources of vitamin D which helps strengthen bones.

In addition to providing these essential vitamins and nutrients oyster mushrooms are also free of cholesterol and fat, low in carbohydrates, calories and sodium and high in protein and fiber

Oyster Mushrooms and Cholesterol

Dr. Mehmet Oz recommended the consumption of oyster mushrooms either cooked or raw to lower cholesterol levels. He suggested individuals with high cholesterol eat a half cup of oyster mushrooms per day. Consuming oyster mushrooms can decrease cholesterol levels naturally, which can potentially reduce the need for prescription medication.

Oyster mushrooms contain statins, which are typically taken in drug form to lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Statins wake up receptors in the liver, which take in cholesterol to pass it through the liver much more readily to rid the body of cholesterol. While oyster mushrooms are effective in lowering cholesterol, those suffering from the condition should not reduce or cease the use of their cholesterol medication without consulting with their doctor.

Oyster Mushroom and Cancer

Oyster mushrooms contain polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are a complex carbohydrate comprised of small sugar molecules. The Research Institute of Nutrition found polysaccharides can have a positive effect on tumours by inhibiting further growth. Polysaccharides also help to strengthen the immune system, which contributes to fighting cancer.

Oyster Mushroom and Inflammation

Also found in oyster mushrooms, terpenoids which kill bacteria and viruses by producing an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.

Other health benefits

Oyster mushrooms can also help with the following ailments:

Nutrition deficiencies, Ulcers, high or low blood pressure, Liver problems, Allergies, Autoimmune diseases and gastrointestinal problems.

The most nutrient dense portion of the mushroom is the cap however young mushrooms are the most nutritious. Oyster mushrooms are an extremely versatile ingredient which can easily replace popular choices such as Portobello and button and enhance the flavor profile with its distinct taste and meaty texture. 

How to use Oyster Mushrooms

Cleaning

Place the mushroom in a bowl of water (minimum amount as they are quite moist) to flush out the gill spaces as well as to remove any insects or growing medium that may be present and gently press between paper or cloth towels to remove excess liquid.

Cooking

Oyster mushrooms are used often in stir-fried dishes, since the cap is thin and cooks quickly. Simply tear the mushroom into desirable sizes before adding it to the wok. For a dish that requires a long cooking time, add these mushrooms at the last stage of cooking. Large mushrooms because of their meaty texture can be cut into large pieces, dipped into slightly beaten eggs, and then rolled in bread crumbs for pan-frying. Oyster mushrooms also work well in soups, pasta and even fried rice.  If cuts are large enough, they also have a meaty appearance when cooked. They pair well with seafood and white meats

Preserving

Mushrooms can be stored in a freezer after briefly sautéing in butter. Dehydrated Oyster mushrooms can be added to a dish without rehydration.  

Valentine’s Day Mushroom Recipe

Oyster Mushroom Curry

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Cooking Time: 25 to 30 mins

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

200 g Oyster Mushrooms

1 tblspn + 1 tblspn Oil

1 large Onion (chopped finely)

2 large Tomatoes (pureed)

1/2 Bell Pepper (sliced thinly)

1 cup Peas

1 tblspn Ginger Garlic Paste

2 tsp Chilli Powder

1 tblspn Coriander Powder 

1 tsp Cumin Powder

1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Garam Masala Powder 

Salt to taste

Coriander leaves a handful finely chopped

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan, add in mushroom and cook until lightly coloured. Remove this to a plate.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the same pan, add in onions and cook until golden, add in ginger garlic paste and sauté for a minute.
  • Add in all spice powder and sauté for a minute.
  • Add in tomatoes and cook until oil separates.
  • Add in more water; add in cooked mushrooms, peas, bell pepper and mix well
  • Cook until the mushrooms are done. Simmer for 10 minutes. 
  • Add in coriander leaves and mix well to serve.

CARIRI’s Biotechnology Unit can help you resolve food quality problems, make processes more efficient and profitable, and develop new products. They provide consultancy and training services across the Food Industry value chain- from food processors, restaurants and caterers to wholesalers, distributors and retailers.

One facet of Biotechnology is the Mushroom Technology Package Bay which has been developed to promote diversity in the Agricultural Sector. The bay houses the production and incubation of growing bags which once completed are harvested and sold.  You can grow your own business and you don’t need much space to start it, you just need to know the specifics and CARIRI is here to guide you. 

For more information, please contact CARIRI’s Biotechnology Unit at 299-0210 ext 5053 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

References

 

 

Food safety may be compromised around Carnival time for various reasons.  Many of the causes stem from improper cleaning and sanitation practices as well as poor personal hygiene. This Carnival, keep these tips in mind to ensure that you and your family consume safe food:

  • Hot foods should be held above 60oC or above and cold food should be kept below 5oC  (refrigerator temperature) once prepared
  • Do not pack hot foods together with cold foods
  • When transporting food keep perishable foods on ice. Fried chicken, potato salad, ham, beef and fish, egg or chicken sandwiches need to be kept cold. You can also freeze meat sandwiches the night before
  • Be careful about ice - separate ice for consumption from ice to be used for cooling, in different coolers
  • Hot foods should be bought freshly prepared and should be piping hot.
  • Salads and vegetables are supposed to be kept on ice
  • Take along  a lot  of moist towelettes or baby wipes and instant hand sanitizer with you to clean your hands before touching food

If you depend on street vendors for food, be alert of the following:

  • Their food handlers badge that should be current and displayed
  • Their immediate surroundings are clean, free of litter, pests and other contaminants
  • The vendor’s attire – they should on have hair nets, not be wearing jewellery whilst handling food, coats/aprons and gloves should also be clean
  • The vendor should have facilities that include a supply of clean, potable water in addition to liquid antibacterial soap and hand-drying paper towels that allow him/her to practice regular hand-washing.
  • There must be a covered waste receptacle.
  • Foods should be in temperature controlled devices such as food warmers and other insulated containers that keep foods out of the temperature danger zone (5-60oC)
  • All equipment and utensils are clean, functioning, well maintained and made of food grade material (e.g. stainless steel, food grade plastic)
  • If food is being sold from a vehicle, the vehicle should be clean and well maintained
  • The vendor’s personal behavior does not compromise food safety (e.g. he/she is not eating, drinking, chewing gum, smoking or chattering excessively whilst preparing food)
  • Food packaging materials such as boxes, paper and bags are properly sealed and kept away from airborne contaminants, chemicals and any other hazards that can pose a food safety risk
  • The vendor is not showing signs of illness such as excessive sneezing, coughing, runny eyes and nose, vomiting, having to use the washroom often and other such symptoms

For more information, please contact CARIRI’s Biotechnology Unit at 299-0210 ext 5053 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The market for mobile applications is already extensive and it exhibits no evidence of slowing down. Currently, there were over 10 billion mobile devices with Internet access that were expected to be in use at the end of last year. As such, the app-building industry needs to grow to match the demand being achieved. Since the inception of this industry, a record number of 83 billion apps have been downloaded; with industry professionals predicting downloads to exceed 200 billion per year by 2017.  Users are favouring the expediency and a better overall user experience of native apps on both smart phones and tablets.

The average user spends more time using mobile apps as opposed to visiting the mobile web; an average of 139 minutes per day. Let’s flashback to more than 15 years ago when the Internet was the newest ground-breaking discovery and companies were scrambling to put out a website with all their information;  it seemed like it was mandatory if a company wanted to be seen as a worthy competitor on the market. Now fast forward to present day – the mobile age, companies are quickly realizing that in order to engage with mobile users, they need to provide them with a medium in which they are constantly interacting with – mobile apps.

The shift to mobile app development is about to get even more appealing to developers. Last year, Google implemented mobile friendly factors in its search results. It ranks mobile apps participating in App Indexing [1] better in the mobile search results. This algorithmic change has a significant effect in search. Users now find it much simpler to get relevant results optimized for their devices.

With all this over saturation of mobile applications, how can developers create apps that would stand out? Predictions on what the mobile application market will be like this year indicates that apps will get more targeted. Developers should create apps that are more targeted for a specific need rather than building apps that serve a multi-purpose function. The more specific you make an app, the easier it is to stand out. Also, investing in graphics would be a plus in this visual age. Users tend to download an app that immediately catches their eye.

The success and rise of mobile apps is, without a doubt, the biggest player in the market. Pretty soon, most would be conforming to it. So what are you waiting on? Platforms such as Appery.io, Mobile Roadie and AppMakr make it easy for anyone to get started on building and joining the mobile revolution.

Once your application is built, you can bring it in to the Centre for Enterprise Development’s mCentre. mCentre is the only mobile applications laboratory and accelerator in the region which incubates high potential mobile app developers. This lab provides world class business and technical training to individuals on mobile app development and entrepreneurship on all platforms; Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows.

The mCentre operates a mobile application testing facility referred to as the Living Lab, which provides testing services on all mobile application platforms, viz, Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry. Using appropriate checklists, the tests use measurements which provide an indication as to where improvements, if any, can be made to the mobile application.

The mCentre’s also hosts an App Club which is an outreach programme to help build a developer community as well as awareness of different platforms, SDKs, APIs and other technology. Members of the App Club are afforded the opportunity to attend various training workshops and seminars all geared towards mobile application development and commercialization.

For more information, please contact CARIRI’s mCentre at the Centre for Enterprise Development at 299-0209 ext 2317 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 [1] App Indexing lets Google index apps just like websites. Currently it is only available for Android.

There is a misconception that once a business is making profit, everything is fine! This is far from the truth. If the cash flow position of the firm is negative, it means the business may be in severe trouble. Profit is defined as revenue less expenses and cash flow refers to the actual receipt and payment of cash. If a business buys $1,000.00 worth of stock and sells it on credit for $1,500.00, profit is $500.00 but cash flow is negative as cash inflows would be nil. Many businesses may continue to trade in the short to medium term even if they are making a loss. This is possible if they can, for example, delay paying creditors and/or have enough money to pay variable costs. However, no business can survive long without enough cash to meet its immediate needs, for example, payment of bills. This is why effective cash flow management is necessary. Hereunder are 5 key points to assist with effective cash flow management.

1. Managing your payables

A key strategy in cash flow management is to hold onto your cash as long as possible by managing your payables. This means that the business should take full advantage of creditor payment terms and even negotiate with suppliers for more liberal or extended payment terms, as well as, discounts. This would require maintaining an open, healthy relationship with the suppliers.

2. Improving your receivables

Another key strategy in cash flow management is to retrieve cash as quickly as possible. There are several ways in which this can be done. One way is to offer discounts to customers who pay quickly. This will encourage customers to continue to pay promptly. Another technique is requesting customers to make a downpayment or deposit payment at the time the order is taken. Thirdly, collection policies need to be aggressive and follow ups for payment need to be conducted consistently and immediately if payments are behind.

3. Preparing cash flow projections

Cash flow is the life-blood of any business. As such, cash flow projections should be prepared for a year by estimating cash inflows and cash outflows for each month over the next twelve months. This is essential to ensure that the business has enough to survive. Preparing cash flow projections are considered just as important as preparing business plans for the following:

1a) It acts as an "early warning system" by identifying potential shortfalls in cash balances in advance.

1b) Makes sure that the business can afford to pay suppliers and employees. Suppliers who do not get paid will soon stop supplying the business; it is even worse if employees are not paid on time.

1c) It spots problems with customer payments. Preparing the cash flow forecast encourages the business to look at how quickly customers are paying their debts.

When completing the cash flow statement it is important to note seasonal fluctuations in sales and record them accordingly.

4. Avoid over-investing

Especially for new/start-up businesses, while using extra cash to purchase assets for the business can improve productivity and competitiveness, it can be very useful to retain backup funds to cover any unexpected costs that may arise, such as repairs for breakdowns of equipment.

5. Taking out short-term loans

As a business owner, it is wise to plan for the rainy day. Financial institutions would be more willing to lend to a business that has a healthy cash flow position than to one that has a negative cash flow position. It is suggested that a business plans ahead and asks for money even before it is needed. The bank can arrange a line of credit for the business so that in the event that the business is strapped for cash or any unforeseen day-to-day expenses occur, this line of credit can be utilized.

For more information, please contact CARIRI’s Business Hatchery and Incubation Programme at 299-0209 ext 2661 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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