Potted banana plants being hardened at CARDI’s field station in Antigua
CARDI facilitated the weaning and hardening of over 4,000 tissue cultured banana plantlets for private farmer George Purcell at the Antigua and Barbuda Unit. This activity was supervised by experienced technician, Delvin Batchelor at the Unit’s weaning and hardening facility in Betty’s Hope.
The fragile plantlets were weaned in a humidity chamber and gradually exposed to the external environment. They were then transplanted into containers and placed in the shade house. Critical success factors at this stage were: regulating shade, watering, good hygiene and the maintenance of an optimal temperature range. As a result of CARDI’s intervention an over 90% success rate was recorded.
The use of tissue culture material is advantageous as it is free of pest and diseases, has a faster, more uniform growth rate, and a large quantity of plants can be obtained in a short period of time. The latter is particularly important as it allows farmers to transition to commercial operation. CARDI Representative Mr. Paul Lucas has reiterated that such activities are particularly beneficial to the farmers and to the development of the agricultural sector in Antigua and Barbuda.