The Northern Marianas College’s Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services was recently awarded $1.79 million to research commercial pineapple cultivation in the CNMI.
The project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will concentrate on tissue culture multiplication and the development of sustainable, climate-resilient, commercial cultivation of pineapple farming systems in the region.
“We chose pineapple as a target food crop for production because of its nutritional benefits, as well as its potential for commercial production,” said Dr. Virenda M. Verma, project director for the pineapple study.
Verma, who has been a leading horticultural biotechnologist involved in agricultural research in the Micronesian region for over 20 years, said that the research project was developed based on input from agriculture professionals and stakeholders of the CNMI.
According to Verma, the average crop yield of a properly managed pineapple farm can be about 50-60 tons per hectare. “The commercial cultivation of pineapple in the CNMI would promote food and nutritional security,” Verma said.
The main objectives are to design and establish an appropriate plant biotechnology facility, produce elite and disease-free seedlings of locally preferred pineapple cultivars through tissue culture multiplication, and provide appropriate recommendations to local farmers for sustainable, commercial, climate-resilient pineapple production.