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 hot peppers programme uses the commodity value chain approach (Figure 1) to pursue the development of the regional industry. The specific actions along the commodity value chain that CARDI undertakes, based on its competences are the enhancement of the productivity of commercial varieties through the development and improvement of varieties for use across the region, production of high quality seeds, establishment of productivity indices and investment profiles for these varieties and the improvement and stabilisation of indigenous varieties of interest to specific countries.
Highlights of Recent Activities
Activities of Regional Scope
- CARDI regional varietal improvement programme is currently focused on exploiting the variability within the ‘Red Congo’ and ‘Scotch Bonnet’ x ‘Bird Pepper’ populations. Three outstanding variants (two red and one yellow) from ‘Red Congo’ and four selections (three red and one yellow) from the ‘Scotch Bonnet’ x ‘Bird Pepper’ cross have been selected to undergo yield trials.
- Breeder Seed for the eight stabilised commercial cultivars – ‘Red Congo’, ‘Yellow Congo’, ‘Scotch Bonnet’, ‘Cayenne’, ‘Tiger Teeth’, ‘CARDI Green’, ‘CARDI Red’ and ‘West Indies Red’ – was produced in Barbados. Some 250 g of Nucleus Seeds, which produce plants for commercial seeds were produced in Belize, while Antigua and Barbuda produced 60 kg of Commercial Seeds for use by farmers in the region.
- The regional varietal trial on the productivity of the eight stabilised varieties conducted in Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines demonstrated that ‘CARDI Green’ and ‘West Indies Red’ were the most productive in terms of yield and berry weight. The results were consistent with those obtained in other locations, such as Dominica and Belize.
- The investigation of pests and diseases that contribute to reduced productivity of hot peppers has been ongoing. In Belize, baseline data collected on major pests in Cayo and Belize districts showed that white flies (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) and cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum (Fabricius) and Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi Barber) were the most prevalent pests. Virus infection is still a major problem for hot pepper production. Screening of hot pepper fields in Barbados for Potato Virus Y (PVY) and Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) revealed that 60% of the samples were positive for CMV and 78% for PVY. A survey of common weeds in the hot pepper fields showed many species testing positive for the viruses. Future studies will investigate weed seeds as sources for transmission of the viruses. Meanwhile, the results suggest that field sanitation will be important in managing the viruses.
- In addition to the specific research and development actions highlighted above, we also keep track of the major developments in the hot pepper industry. The three major market outlets for hot peppers produced in the Caribbean Region are: Fresh domestic market; Local and regional processors; and Fresh extra-regional exports. During the year, processors in some islands experienced shortages of peppers and as a result there appeared to be in increase in pepper mash importation from extra-regional sources. Actions are being initiated in some Member States to increase hot pepper production to increase local supplies.
- CARDI maintains a germplasm collection in Barbados, for many of the indigenous hot pepper landraces from CARICOM Member states, so that they are not lost to future generations. They represent a critical genetic resource for the Region. Seeds are maintained in a seed room and need to be regenerated every three years to sustain viability. During 2009, 27 of these accessions were planted, seeds extracted, dried and returned to storage.
Activities of National Scope
- CARDI provided assistance to the development of the Belize Hot Pepper Value Chain under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Security Project. This included organisation and participation in a Miami market visit for the FAO/Belize Hot Pepper Group, where four importers made a tour of the Miami Produce Centre and got a better understanding of how the market works. The experience will assist the members of the group to be better prepared for exporting fresh peppers or pepper mash to Miami or the other Caribbean islands.
- The Institute has been engaged in purifying and stabilising seven landraces of hot pepper in Trinidad & Tobago, since 2005. However, due to market preference, the focus has been on purifying the Moruga Red landrace which was advanced to the 5th generation in 2009. A descriptor list of 40 attributes of the Moruga Red was compiled so that it may be more easily identified by farmers. Technical assistance was also provided to some 20 commercial farmers in the production of hot pepper. Seeds of improved varieties of West Indies Red, CARDI Green, Moruga Red, Hood, Bejeucal, Faria and Scorpion were supplied. 36 hectares of crops were established with an average yield of 20,175 kg per ha.
- In Dominica efforts continued to characterize and produce adequate quality of seeds of each landrace of the indigenous, pungent ‘Bonda Ma Jacque’ hot pepper. 20 accessions were examined and results showed that both berry weight and length were significantly higher for orange-yellow accessions than for the red ones. In the upcoming period the landraces will be replanted to supply the local processing company, BELLO, with berries for organoleptic assessment.
- A field trial in Grenada examined the effectiveness of five chemical to control stem borer (Papaiperma nebis Guenee). After 6 months, only plants treated with Rogor Blue were affected by stem borers. The trial was repeated in 2010 and results will be available in the near future.
- St Lucia was the venue for a production and marketing workshop organized by the St Lucia Marketing Board (SLMB) and conducted by CARDI. Farmers, extension officers and one exporter were trained in post harvest handling of hot pepper for the export market.