The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in collaboration with the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) also known as the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC), has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to diversify the Caribbean’s food systems by sustainably developing the fruit and vegetable value chains. To achieve this, both institutions will undertake joint research and development projects, capacity building initiatives and the sharing of experiences, knowledge, and technological advances.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), individuals need approximately 400 grams or five pieces of fruits and vegetables daily. While we in the Caribbean have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, consumption across all countries is under the daily recommended rate per person (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 2020). Access and availability are two major factors impacting the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The signing of this MOU is timely, as 2021 has been designated the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV) by the United Nations. This collaboration between CARDI and WorldVeg will not only strengthen the production and supply chains for fruits and vegetables but will also raise awareness and the importance of both, to the food and nutrition security of Caribbean peoples.
The immediate focus is on participating in a project in Belize which seeks to promote vegetable diversity for more resilient livelihoods and healthier diets in the Latin America and Caribbean Region. This will involve field evaluation and promotion of new, improved vegetable varieties for domestic and export markets. Crops of interest are Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), sweet and chilli peppers (Capsicum annuum) and Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). Capacity building in the areas of trial management and vegetable breeding is also included.
This partnership with WorldVeg will assist with developing and introducing new, improved varieties that meet production and market requirements, leading to farmers achieving improved production, productivity, efficiency, and economic returns.