Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, with a total land area of 430 km² (166 mi²). The island is composed mostly of coral and is relatively flat; the highest point –Mount Hillaby – is 336 km (1,104 ft) above sea level. The average annual rainfall is 1295 mm (51 inches) and its capital city Bridgetown. Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities, but the economy has shifted from an emphasis on agriculture towards the provision of services mainly tourism, business, finance and general services, and light manufacturing. Off-shore finance and information services are important activities. In 2009 the country experienced declining incomes as a result of the global financial crisit, however, the agriculture sector grew slightly – non-sugar agriculture and fishing grew by 1.5% and the sugar industry grew by 1.2% relative to 2008. Non-sugar agriculture along with manufacturing is still being developed. Agricultural products include sugar, cotton and vegetables. Agriculture contributed 6% of the GDP per capita and still employed 10% of the population in 2009, according to the CIA Factbook.
The major programme that identifies the CARDI Barbados Unit is the breeding and maintenance of hot pepper germplasm. Other aspects of the hot pepper improvement programme involve the determination of possible sources of viral infection, and the deployment of newer technologies to optimise production. CARDI Barbados is also involved in livestock research and development. In collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Government of Barbados the Unit is mapping the genetic characteristics of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep. It is also involved in the characterisation and evaluation of local feed resources.
- Maintain breeder seed of stabilised varieties – Red Congo, Yellow Congo, Scotch Bonnet, Cayenne, Tiger Teeth, CARDI Green, CARDI Red and West Indies Red – as well as other regional germplasm collections
- Hybridise, select and conduct yield trials to meet breeding objectives of improved hot pepper accessions
- Evaluate of improved technologies, such as hormonal manipulation, high density population planting, IPM and water management for optimal pepper production
- Determine possible sources of viral infection, especially Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) and Potato Virus Y (PVY) in hot peppers and select varieties for resistance
- Characterise and evaluate local feed resources, including forages and develop feeding systems
- DNA finger printing of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep
For highlights of work by the CARDI office in Barbados, Click here
Dr Cyril Roberts