CARDI Media Release, December 6, 2014:- In celebration of 40 years of ‘improving lives through agricultural research’, CARDI reminisces on some of its notable successes. Dr. Arlington Chesney, Executive Director of CARDI noted that ‘over the 40 years, it would be safe to say that if CARDI was not in existence, the food import bill of the Region would have been greater than it is today.’
Some of the notable achievements through the years are:
1. Some of the major commercial varieties of crops now in cultivation in the Region have been developed and/or purified and/or introduced by CARDI. These include:
- Rice and corn varieties, CARDI 70 and CARDI YC001, respectively, in Belize
- Peanut variety, CARDI Payne, in Jamaica and soya bean varieties CARDI S15 and CARDI S88, in Belize which has recently been introduced to Jamaica
- Hot pepper varieties, CARDI Green (CG) West Indies Red (WIR), Moruga Red (MR) and Scorpion, growing throughout the Region
- Grasses, such as, Mulatto 1 and 2 in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago
2. Production of crops and livestock germplasm. For example, in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago seeds of all hot pepper varieties (WIR, CR, MR, Scorpio and Scotch Bonnet) are grown commercially in the Region for local and export markets; in Belize seeds of corn, rice, peas and beans and soybeans for use in that country and also in Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; and, with the exception of rice, in Haiti after the devastating earthquake; in Antigua and Barbuda seeds of vegetables, such as cucumber, pumpkin, squash, etc. particularly for use after cases of extreme weather events; in Grenada vegetable seedlings for use in that country; in Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines vegetative material of cassava, sweet potato and dasheen utilizing rapid multiplication techniques and in St Lucia, seedlings of coconuts that are tolerant to Red Palm Mite; in Jamaica cross breed goats that are better adapted to regional conditions.
3. Farming Systems Research that promoted small farm production involving intensive livestock, zero grazing and cut and carry systems that are the building blocks for the now popular family farms.
4. Enhancing the productivity and hence, sustainability, including competitiveness, of commodities through improved husbandry practices. For example, in small ruminants, the utilization of forages as a replacement for imported feeds; and introduction of improved housing to reduce parasite load and; in Jamaica, integrated management of pests, such as, Diamond Back Moth in cabbage, cauliflower etc., coffee berry and sugarcane borers, leaf miner and thrips on vegetables and avocado and pink mealy bug on most flora in the Region
5. The introduction of emerging issues into a “new” and modernised agriculture. These include new uses for traditional crops, such as, cassava in the manufacture of beer and flour as a partial replacement for wheaten flour, and sweet potato for chips, pasta and wines; mitigation and management of agriculture as a consequence of climate change and variability with the consequential increase in extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. This includes understanding of the relationship with incidence of pests, impact on biodiversity of flora and fauna and the management of available water.