Natural positive selection for coconut planting material ongoing in St Vincent and the Grenadines
In St Vincent and the Grenadines, CARDI is working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour (MAFFRTIL) to increase the supply of coconut planting material. According to the MAFFRTIL’s Agri Export Strategy Initiative, St Vincent is targeting to replant approximately 150 acres of coconut per year.
Under the European Union/CARIFORUM supported “Alliances for the Coconut Industry Development Expansion and Enhanced Support for the Caribbean” project, the Institute is sourcing local planting material through natural positive selection. Here, CARDI is identifying, geo-referencing and characterizing superior mother plants on farmers’ plots. According to CARDI Representative in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Gregory Linton “among criteria being used to evaluate the palms are their physical attributes, productive capacity, size of fruits, thickness of the kernels and water content.”
CARDI and MAFFRTIL are collaborating to strengthen the coconut nurseries at the Dumbarton Agricultural Station and later the Wallilabou Agricultural Station. Currently, 20 private farmers are involved in the programme but this is expected to increase as the project progresses.
By the end of 2021, the project is aiming to add 5,000 seed nuts to production, of which 70% will be the Atlantic Tall variety. Emphasis is being placed on the Atlantic Tall as many farmers on the island are opting for dwarf varieties in their operations. This initiative will also assist in conserving the variety.
Complementing this initiative is the lead farmer approach. Under the project, lead farmers were selected in different agricultural regions to demonstrate good agricultural practices as it relates to coconut nursery establishment and management. Through the participatory approach, secondary ring farmers will gain knowledge and practical skills to improve their on-farm operations. Presently, 17 lead farmers have been selected in 3 agricultural regions, located in the green and yellow zones. Through the project, CARDI is working with local stakeholders to improve the coconut value chain as the market demand for fresh and end products are on the rise.