Cassava is still a marginal crop in Dominica, with the majority of the population opting for other root crops in their diets – sweet potato, dasheen and yam. But the increasing consumption of cassava bread (Bami) and a growing migrant population that consumes fresh cassava tubers are helping to popularise the crop.
Baseline information collected during Phase I of the Cassava Industry Development – Market Assessment and Technology Validation and Dissemination Project has revealed an increase in the number of cassava farmers on the island and cultivation in non-traditional areas like Calibishie. Increasing development of value added products and improvements to agro processing plants by the Government of Dominica are also fueling this increase.
Under the project 4 varieties of sweet cassava were introduced from CIAT as tissue culture material. CARDI coordinated with CLAYUCA to wean and harden the introduced planting material and build capacity in these areas among staff of the Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security. A germplasm plot of the varieties has been established at the Portsmouth Agricultural Station where agronomic evaluation is ongoing. Nineteen extension officers have also been trained using the Farmer Field School (FFS) methodology to enhance their knowledge and practical skills. This improves their capacity to better advise and serve farmers.
Under Phase II of the project, 40 farmers from the Kalinago Territory, Calibishie, Castle Bruce and Wesley will be trained in cassava production using the FFS methodology. CARDI will also develop technology packs for cassava production and collaborate with CLAYUCA to prepare a framework for the establishment and maintenance of a cassava seed bank. Planting material of the introduced varieties will also be bulked up to conduct evaluations in different agro ecological zones in Dominica.
CARDI is implementing this project with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) through funding provided by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).