CARDI’s commitment to Vision 25 x 2025

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As the only CARICOM institution responsible for agricultural research and development, CARDI has a key role in the achievement of Vision 25 x 2025. This is CARICOM’s blueprint and governments’ collective commitment towards reducing the Regional food import bill by 25% while transforming the sector towards full commercialization.

 

Executive Director, Ansari Hosein notes that Institute has aligned its research programme and resource mobilization initiatives to contribute to achieving vision 25 by 2025, specifically by working to address the production gaps and develop the value chains of some of the priority commodities identified by the Ministerial Task Force.

 

In Belize, CARDI is conducting evaluation trials for new varieties of grains and legumes including biofortified ones and producing planting material for farmers. Annually, from 46 acres at our Central Farm research station in Belize, 85 MT of soybean and 116 MT of corn grain are produced. Both commodities are key ingredients in animal feed formulations and given the planned expansion of regional poultry production in particular, CARDI is positioned to support the production of both commodities.

 

With respect to niche vegetables like broccoli, sweet pepper and tomatoes, CARDI and the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan are conducting evaluation trials for improved lines of various vegetables in Belize and St Kitts and Nevis. The objectives are to conserve available vegetable biodiversity for future use and introduce and promote new vegetable varieties for the domestic and export markets to sustainably improve the livelihoods of resource-poor populations in Central America and Caribbean countries. These varieties are being assessed for heat and drought tolerance. Promising lines have been identified but further evaluations are required to assess their adaptability and acceptability.

 

Since 2015, the EU/CARIFORUM funded ‘Alliances for Coconut Industry Development’ has been CARDI’s flagship project, being implemented along with the International Trade Center,

Ministries of Agriculture and other stakeholders. The project has made interventions in critical areas along the value chain to address various challenges including the unavailability of planting material, pest and disease management, capacity building and introduction of new varieties. Through the project, seventy one (71) nurseries have been established which can collectively produce between 300,000 – 400,000 seedlings per year. Producers have also been exposed to integrated pest management strategies for Red Ring Disease, South American Palm Weevil, Lethal Yellowing, Coconut Cockle and Coconut Mite. The introduction of the Brazilian Green Dwarf by CARDI – a high yielding water nut variety, tolerant to diseases like Lethal Yellowing has been hailed as a game changer for farmers in Guyana and Dominica who wish to tap into the growing, highly profitable coconut water market.

 

Another priority commodity group under 25 x 2025 is roots and tubers. In this area, CARDI has successfully introduced 2 new dasheen varieties from the Pacific to St Vincent and the Grenadines. These are high yielding, adapted to local conditions, tolerant to common pest and diseases with an acceptable cooking quality and taste. Both varieties are now being widely cultivated by farmers. The institute continues to conduct similar varietal evaluations for cassava, sweet potato and white potato varieties.

 

The Institute continues to work to find alternative feed formulations for small ruminants. Besides producing corn and soyabean in Belize, we have introduced silage technology and improved forages to farmers across several member states. CARDI has also introduced new high quality breeds of sheep and goat in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago and promoted practices such as embryo transfer and artificial insemination to improve productivity.

 

Concurrently, the Institute is working with partners to build a climate resilient sector and promote the increased utilization of locally produced foods as part of a eat local campaign. Training and capacity building remains a priority area as providing up to date, science based evidence is key to driving change in the sector.