CARDI is continuing to work with the Taiwan based World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) to conduct evaluation trials for improved vegetable lines produced by the Center. This activity falls under their project “Promoting vegetable diversity for more resilient livelihoods and healthier diets in the Latin America and Caribbean Region” financed by the Taiwanese Government. The objectives of the project are to conserve available vegetable biodiversity for future use and introduce and promote new vegetable varieties for domestic and export markets to sustainably improve the livelihoods of resource-poor populations in Central America and Caribbean countries.
Previously, CARDI evaluated the performance of 13 tomato varieties, 10 hot pepper varieties and 7 sweet pepper varieties for yield and disease tolerance in Belize. They were all World Veg open pollinated lines. From these, 4 tomato varieties: AVTO1954, AVTO1903, AVTO2101 and AVTO1915 were selected as high performers with potential in Belize. Under this phase of the project, CARDI will identify farmers to evaluate these selected lines in on-farm trials following best management protocols and practices. Data to be collected include adaptability to local conditions, tolerance to local stresses (pests and diseases) and consumer preferences with respect to flavour and taste.
Additionally, CARDI will conduct on station adaptation trials for 4 tomato, 3 sweet pepper and 5 hot pepper lines in Belize. Also, in St Kitts and Nevis evaluation trials will commence for 7 tomato, 9 broccoli and 3 sweet pepper lines. During these evaluations all World Veg lines will be checked against local farmers preferred varieties. The purpose of these on-station trials will be to identify new breeding lines developed by WorldVeg that may better meet the needs of local consumers in the area and that are also adapted to the local growing conditions with tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses.
The selected crops, specifically tomatoes and broccoli are among the niche vegetables identified in CARICOM’s 20 x 2025 plan for increased production, as part of the Region’s import replacement programme.