News Releases

UWI’s Bridge to China

For Release Upon Receipt - December 18, 2014

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago – Treating with food production in intensive, climate-smart, technology-driven systems are the ways to bring new farmers and entrepreneurs to this necessary sector of our economy. Such systems set  up to demonstrate new techniques in agriculture; research on new varieties of staples and other fruits and vegetables; research staff and graduate students exchanging to develop and share knowledge and facilitate the development of  a strong and viable agricultural sector for Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean – these are just some of the immediate results of a one week visit to China by Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the St Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Clement Sankat and the Director of Institutional Advancement & Internationalisation, Mr. Sharan C. Singh. 

This engagement in Beijing with partners in China, the China Agricultural University (CAU) and in Guangzhou with the Crop Research Institute of Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences. (CRIGAAS) will have a significant impact on the Agricultural Innovation Park (AIP) taking shape at Orange Grove in eastern Trinidad – one of the major projects being undertaken by The UWI in support of the drive to strengthen the region’s capacity to train, research and grow more food and create sustainability here.  

Professor Sankat, who headed a UWI team invited to attend the 9th Global Confucius Institute Conference, presented a report of the activities of the CI which has been established at the St Augustine Campus for just over a year. The local institution has been regarded as such a success by its primary funding body in China (HANBAN) that the St Augustine Principal was asked to present its results as a part of the University Presidents’ Forum. University leaders from over 400 of the world’s top Universities were present at the annual Conference, held this year in Xiamen, China.

The Principal explained his vision for the relationship between The UWI and the CI by pointing to the stream of activities that had already taken place: a cultural expo which showcased Chinese culture, cuisine, art, etc.; language and calligraphy classes both in and outside of the University, celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the CI globally in our capital city of Port of Spain and even the victory in the recent national dragon boat racing competition. All of these, he said, are part of the plan to better understand and strengthen relations between China and Trinidad and Tobago; to foster academic and cultural cooperation; to expose and develop local Chinese art, language, culture, knowledge and traditions; and to serve as a training centre for the regional community on matter related to China and the Caribbean. .

While in China, the Principal and Mr. Singh took the opportunity to meet with a team led by the President of the China Agricultural University (CAU), Professor Bingsheng Ke and the Director of International Cooperation from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture who had, only three months prior, sent a team from his Ministry to visit The UWI St. Augustine Campus on a mission to determine how his Ministry could support the collaborative work planned for the AIP. Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to China, His Excellency Chandrath Singh, was also in attendance. The 200-year-old CAU is the Chinese partner University for the Confucius Institute at the St Augustine Campus and is the most renowned agricultural University in China. 

Professor Sankat spoke of the challenges facing agriculture, including the heavy importation of food, limited interest from young people in pursuing it as a career; lack of proper marketing, poor infrastructure, the negative effects of climate change and the common challenges agriculture faces in Small Island developing states (SIDS). 

The two university leaders also used the opportunity to sign an agreement to commence implementation of the Agricultural Innovation Park (AIP) to be situated at the UWI’s East Campus in Orange Grove. This follows an agreement signed in February of this year, during the official visit to China of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar which defined and cemented the partnership between both Universities to collaborate beyond the Confucius institute in the area of Agriculture and to therefore establish the AIP. This latest agreement will see the first stage of the establishment of the AIP at Orange Grove.  Two UWI students are already currently on scholarship at CAU doing research on sweet corn varieties and production. The St Augustine campus will benefit from a gift for this first stage of establishing the park and also the exchange of staff and students to support the research and demonstration work at the park.  

“The UWI’s Agricultural Innovation Park at Orange Grove will be a visible manifestation of a world-class model farm to inspire the young entrepreneur, educate our current farmer, engage our researchers and teachers and hopefully, push our policy makers and politicians to support decisive steps in transforming our agriculture sector as a matter of urgency,” said Professor Sankat. “This partnership between the CAU and The UWI, with HANBAN and the Ministry of Agriculture of China and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago at our sides, represents one of the best hopes and a model for the sustainable development of agriculture in the small island developing states of the Caribbean, with China demonstrating its global leadership.” 

The team accompanying the Principal to the Confucius Institute meeting in Xiamen, China, included the Chinese Director of our Confucius Institute, Professor Hu Youzhen and the Trinidadian CI Director and Director of the Centre for Language Learning, Dr. Beverly-Anne Carter.  


About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)