CARDI, under the CARICOM Regional Transformation Programme for Agriculture, now being operationalised by the ‘Jagdeo Initiative’, has lead responsibility for the development of regional sweet potato industry. CARDI’s sweet potatoes programme uses the commodity value chain approach (Figure 1) to pursue the development of the regional industry. Actions being undertaking by CARDI along the commodity value chain include the characterisation of sweet potato varieties found in various countries for production, productivity and value added products (flour, fries, juice, etc), multiplication and distribution of disease-free planting material to farmers, development and transfer of production technologies and investment profiles, identification and transfer of low resource and cost effective post harvest techniques and capacity building in stakeholders of sweet potato Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tactics.
CFC Roots & Tubers Project
Highlights of Recent Activities
The focus of the sweet potato programme activities during 2009 continues to include improving productivity, pest and disease management, germplasm acquisition and distribution and post harvest practices to prolong shelf-life.
In Antigua & Barbuda, CARDI conducted trials to examine the effects of planting dates on 10 of the most commonly grown accessions in the country. This was in response to complaints by farmers that sweet potato accessions performed differently during various seasons or periods. The results showed that time of planting, zone and accession all impact on yield. At all sites crops planted in January or October proved to be the best in terms of marketable yield of tubers, while the highest marketable yields were obtained at Cades Bay. Farmers have been provided with information to schedule planting to obtain the best returns on their investment.
Jamaica was the venue for the evaluation of a high-input and low-input post harvest system for sweet potato production. After 140 days of storage results showed that sweet potatoes that were cured recorded approximately 25% less weight loss that those which were not cured and averaged a weight loss of some 31%. There were also differences in performance among varieties in their response to the various treatments. Overall, Clarendon stored best under the treatment conditions. Work continues on Phase II trial to multiply the planting material and establish a commercial sized plot.
Sweet potato varieties selected for local consumption and export in St Vincent & the Grenadines were investigated on performance in three major producing areas on a zonal basis. These include market tested varieties where the carrot-coloured varieties were found to be suitable for flour production and making pastries. All the trials will support development and sustaining a thriving sweet potato production and marketing system and allow for accurate projections on national yield performance.
In addition, the efficacy of bio-stimulants as a package treatment was evaluated on the productivity of two sweet potato varieties. Results showed that plot yields for treated accessions were significantly higher than those of the untreated plot, while yields from the variety Lover’s Name (both treated and un-treated) were significantly higher than those from the variety Agriculture.
Preliminary results of a trial established on a farmer’s field in St Kitts, aimed at finding effective control measures for the major sweet potato pest Cylas formicarius using traps and lures, showed that the Bleach Bottle/Taiwanese combination captured twice the number of weevils (60,000) as the next best performer (32,000).
Investigations are being conducted to evaluate various insecticides for control of Euscepes postfaciatus, an important pest of sweet potato in Barbados.
In Trinidad & Tobago, CARDI is collaborating with one of its major stakeholders, the Trinidad & Tobago Agri-Business Association (TTABA) to develop a project to validate production technologies aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of sweet potato. Studies involve the execution of a baseline survey of sweet potato production areas; demonstration of propagation techniques to improve yield and validation of cultural practices for the management of the sweet potato weevil.
Construction and use of pheromone traps in sweet potato production. [1990s]. Lawrence J and Myers P. [St. Augustine, Trinidad]:Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute. Keywords: Sweet potato, Pests, Pest control, Sweet potato weevil, Cylas formicarius
Integrated pest management of the sweet potato weevil. [1990s]. Lawrence J. [St. Augustine, Trinidad]: Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute. Keywords: Integrated pest management, Sweet potato, Pests, Sweet potato weevil, Cylas formicarius
Dalip, K M. 2002. Integrated Pest Management: General principles of IPM and strategies used against the sweet potato weevil, Cylas formicarius. Presentation at Sweet potato Open Day/Symposium, St Kitts, November 26, 2002.
Titus P and Dalip K. 2006.Managing the white grub Phyllophaga spp. (Coleoptera:Scarabaeidae) affecting sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas L (Convolulaceae) in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Paper presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Caribbean Food Crops Society, Puerto Rico, 9-15 July, 2006.
Jackson D M, Lawrence J*, Dalip K M*, Chung P, Clarke-Harris D*, Bohac J R, Tolin S, Edwards, C and Seal D R. 2003.The sweet potato leaf beetle, Typophorus nigritus viridicyaneus (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), an emerging pest in Jamaica: distribution and host plant resistance. Tropical Agriculture (Trinidad) 80: 235-242 *CARDI
Titus P, Lawrence J and Reid N. 2013. Strengthening the food basket of the Caribbean region: CARDI’s contribution to the development of the cassava industry over the past three decades, rev edn. St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago: Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute. September 2013 (revised)