Under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) funded by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) through the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB), sweet potato is among the commodities being evaluated for climate resilience. CARDI in implementing the Agriculture component of the programme, has partnered with the Mona Office of Research and Innovation (MORI) and Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, to characterise sweet potato varieties through molecular techniques and to validate climate resilience through field and pot studies. In tandem with these activities, the project has built capacity with the provision of laboratory equipment for processing samples and protected structures for weaning and hardening of planting material. It is expected that these initiatives will lead to the increased production of tolerant varieties and facilitate emergency response post disasters.
Jamaica has benefitted from these initiatives. Of samples taken from five local sweet potato varieties for molecular characterisation, popular varieties, ‘Ganja’ and Fire-on-Land have been characterised as drought tolerant. This knowledge can empower producers to select suitable varieties for prevailing weather conditions. A webinar was held to share the results with approximately 100 stakeholders. In ongoing field studies, plots have been established to compare performance (above and below ground development parameters) of four sweet potato varieties during the wet and dry seasons, to determine suitability of these varieties to withstand varying extremes in weather conditions. Complementary pot studies will also be conducted.