Farming communities to benefit from the services of bird wailers in Tobago

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On 12 March 2024, the Pilot Project, “Demonstration of a solar powered wailer bird deterrent system to reduce crop losses caused by Parrots and Cocrico in Tobago” was launched at the Goodwood Secondary School. The project, jointly implemented by CARDI and the Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development is the recipient of an EPIC Grant financed by the Digicel Foundation Trinidad and Tobago and Shell Trinidad and Tobago Limited.

 

In 2022, the Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development (DFSNRESD) sought the assistance of CARDI to control two bird pests – the cocrico and parrot. Both have been wreaking havoc in farming communities across the island, causing persistent damage and losses, leading to a ripple effect throughout a variety of vegetable and tree crop value chains.

 

In November 2023, CARDI procured two solar powered bird deterrent systems from Canadian based company Agritech. The systems deter birds through a series of pre-programmed alarm and distress calls at 4 minute intervals. They are programmed to automatically turn on at dawn and turn off at dusk. The Institute also provided training to staff of the Forestry Department at the Division on the use and maintenance of the systems.

 

Initially, one of the systems was installed at Tobago Cocoa Estate, which in the past reported a 50% decline in production as a result of parrot damage. Preliminary results from the systems were promising. Owner Duane Dove reported that “After 3 weeks at the Tobago Cocoa Estate, there were no sightings of parrots or evidence of parrot damage. And three weeks after the machine was relocated there was still no evidence of habituation taking place.”

 

Participants at the launch had the opportunity to see the system in operation.

 

Delivering the feature address at the launch, Secretary at the Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development, Nathisha Charles-Pantin said she was deeply grateful for the support of all agencies stating that they “Steadfastly supported the shared goal of enhancing the resilience and sustainability of Tobago’s agriculture industry.

 

Cindy Ann Currency, Operations Manager at the Digicel Foundation remarked that this is one of many agriculture projects financed by the EPIC Grant. She notes that the project was aligned to the Foundation’s vision of empowering communities and they were happy to see the wailers bringing ease to farmers.

 

Speaking on the sustainability of the project, Manager, Fayaz Shah said the Division is working out a system to move the wailers across the farming districts in Tobago. With farmers experiencing the benefits of the wailers, he is hoping that investments can be made towards the increased adoption of them making it part of the integrated approach for managing these bird pests.