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Taking its business of advancing the agenda for agriculture research in the Caribbean, and positioning itself as the premier research and development Institute in the region, Cardi, through one of its funding partners—the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC)—has been proactively and aggressively pursuing the development of roots and tubers in the Caribbean region, in particular Haiti, Jamaica and T&T.
All three countries have been reaping significant benefits in five components of the project, namely:
• increase the demand for fresh and value-added products of the selected root and tuber crops in the local and regional market
• strengthen existing production groups and the formation of clusters that will improve the activities along the commodity value chain
• develop competent producers, processors and marketers
• produce and distribute high quality planting materials of cassava, sweet potato and yam through the establishment of appropriate propagation facilities
• develop value chain utilising appropriate technologies
In T&T, assistance provided to the Tobago Cassava Products Limited and the Rio Claro Cassava Producers led to a greater supply and increased production of the root crop by farmers. In all, 20 Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training workshops have been conducted. A germ plasm bank has since been established in Tobago, while mass production of cassava variety HYV continues in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, T&T Agri-Business Association and the Ministry of Food Production.
The main project in Haiti, the GAP training and planting material assistance to sweet potato and yam farmers from the areas of Les Cayes and Salagnac, has led to increased production in these commodities. Assistance was provided to bakers in producing breads and cakes using mixtures of wheat/cassava flour. Taste testing is ongoing. To improve the competence of local experts, five Haitan technicians were trained in nearby Jamaica in the areas of micropagation and conservation techniques.
In Jamaica, assistance was provided for St Thomas and St Catherine cassava producers in the areas of business development, along with providing links to processors. GAP training was conducted for the cassava, sweet potato and yam producer groups in St Thomas, Clarendon, St Catherine and Manchester.
These farmers are seeing the fruit of their labour as Twickenham Bammy Industries has increased its demand for fresh cassava raw material by 300 per cent. Collaborative training interventions have been conducted with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). To ensure a consistent supply of high quality, high yielding varieties, the Christiana Tissue Culture Laboratory is well on its way to completion.
This CFC-funded Project is providing both long-term and sustainable options for imported staples, such as wheat and rice. It is also affording for an increased supply of these root crops, which will undoubtedly lead to more affordable prices for the consumer.