Biochemical analyses for sweet potato varieties set to commence

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Nineteen boxes of sweet potatoes have been harvested from research plots established in agro ecological zones in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and shipped to Trinidad for post harvest evaluations and biochemical analyses. These activities are part of Component 2 of the Regional Sweet Potato project financed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and implemented by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). The analyses are being done by the Faculty Science and Agriculture, the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine – lead consultant for Component 2 of the aforementioned project. The objective of this Component is to identify and select market preferred and climate resilient sweet potato cultivars and enhance production and processing technology. According to Dr. Oral Daly, UWI’s Project Lead the intention is “to increase industry productivity and promote the wider utilization of locally produced sweet potato.”

 

The varieties/accessions being analysed for St Vincent and the Grenadines are: Jackson, CARDI K847, Big Red, Rasta and Agriculture.

 

Similar analyses will be conducted for the five most popular varieties in Guyana, Antigua and

Barbuda and Belize.

 

CARDI Representative in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Donawa Jackson remarked that “the project has generated a lot of interest in the country with many persons contacting Institute for planting material and information on sweet potato production.” In February, CARDI supplied sweet potato slips for the Jackson, Rasta, Big Red, Beauregard and Okinawa purple varieties to 16 farmers and 1 institution.

 

The Honourable Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry & Labour (MAFFRTIL), has extended congratulations to the Institute noting that “the research work regarding sweet potatoes in SVG has created significant interest among the farming community. He further stated that his Ministry will continue to advance sweet potato as a climate change resilient crop and wished all stakeholders the very best in the other stages of the research.”

 

Drought tolerant trials are set to begin in late March at the newly covered greenhouse facility at the CARDI Field Station in Orange Hill. The MAFFRTIL has provided the materials to cover the structure while through the project a drip irrigation system will be installed.

 

With climate change threatening food production across the Region identifying drought and heat tolerant varieties are crucial to improving food and nutrition security.