PR–The Ministry of Agriculture, under the Coconut Rehabilitation Project, distributed new varieties of coconut plants to selected farmers in 2017, and a recent follow-up session on the progress of the trees, highlighted proper Field Management Practices that should be followed.
The Tissue Culture Plants were sourced from Mexico by the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), and acclimatized at the Mirabeau Agricultural station, before being distributed to farmers.
A total of 35 farmers from across the island, including Carriacou and Petite Martinique, were recipients of tall and dwarf variety plants, as they were encouraged to increase the coconut production on the island – the dwarf varieties being used for water and the tall varieties for oil.
A contingent, inclusive of Agronomist, Troy Augustine, Extension Officers from the Western Extension District and farmers, visited two farms where plants are being cultivated.
Intercropping, weed management and sufficient spacing were some of the recommendations made by the Agronomist.
“We are trying to do regular monitoring and inform farmers; providing that the Ministry get a second batch of plants, farmers can have a testimony of what is in the field and how it performs,” Augustine said. “We just want to see what the performance in the field is like, so we can send the message out there that ‘farmers, the plants are doing okay’ and next time we have plants, we can have more farmers being interested.”
“Looking at these coconuts, they are very huge. So, when they start to produce and farmers see what they have, they would not worry about the years that they would have to wait, they would look at my yield to come,” he further stated.
One of the main objective of the visit was to expose Extension Officers to the recommended practices, so that they can share with other farmers within their district.
Supervisor of the Western Extension District, James Mahon, agreed that the session was beneficial to the Extension Officers.
“Our role is to take the information and run with it. We have to encourage the correct methodology and ensure that the farmers plant at the current spacing to start with, or else, sooner or later, we would have a very thick field,” he cautioned.
The Ministry of Agriculture will continue with its visits to different coconut farms in the coming weeks and months.