Trinidad and Tobago: Cassava yields expected to rise

Cassava, being identified as one of the staples under the Food Security programme of Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs (MEPLMA) through the National Food Production Action Plan 2012-2015, prompted the involvement of Colombia’s international Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), (acronyms in Spanish). Dr Clair Hershey, leader of the Cassava Programme at CIAT facilitated Dr Judy Rouse-Miller, Lecturer of Botany at UWI for a two-week research programme which took place recently, with Dr Roosevelt Escobar, a leading research scientist in Colombia. The goal of this Action Plan is to increase cassava production over the period from 5,454 tonnes to 18,182 tonnes.

CIAT, Colombia has been instrumental in successfully implementing micro-propagation of cassava clones using traditional and cost-efficient temporary tissue culture systems which allows for the rapid turnover of planting material for cassava production. This technology once employed in Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the region will yield increased cassava production and hence is seen as a viable source for sustainable development. It will also promote the rapid propagation of cassava disease free planting material.

Dr Rouse-Miller acknowledged the initiative as a means of improving agricultural practices for farmers in Trinidad and Tobago and region-wide. One of the major outcomes resulted from her first-hand observation and lab work with Dr Escobar with respect to the cassava cultures. Dr Rouse-Miller was able to deduce the variables at the in vitro stage which was important for successful hardening for the required result. The second major outcome was the dialogue held with Dr Escobar and other CIAT researchers concerning the establishment of an efficient network for farmers across the region to share experiences and best practices.


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