PR – Grenada, through the Ministry of Agriculture, moves forward with the implementation of the Tissue Cultured Banana Pilot Project, launched last year, to promote the resurgence of the local banana industry.
Following up on work already completed through the pilot project, and understanding the progress made to date by beneficiary farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture continued the knowledge sharing and learning exchange, having hosted the third training of the project on Tuesday, February 23.
At the Ministry’s demonstration plot at the Mirabeau Propagation Station, farmers and field officers were educated and shared their experiences in a variety of areas, including Field Management, Harvesting, Post-harvest Handling, Quality Assurance and Record-Keeping.
Presentations were done by resource persons from the Ministry of Agriculture: Senior Agricultural Officer, Lauren St. Louis; Chief Pest Management Officer, Thaddeus Peters; National Specialist for the Inter-American Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Derek Charles; and Kenly Edward, and Clive Lewis from the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) – all players in the move to resuscitate the industry.
Chair of the Committee set up to manage the pilot project and Chief Extension Officer, Randolph Shears, said the training was significant at this time, “as many of the farmers have reached the critical point of harvesting and marketing of their bananas.”
Fourteen of the established tissue cultured plots are fruiting, three farmers are now harvesting significant quantities from their field, while one of the benefiting farmers recently harvested more than 100 boxes of the improved varieties and sold them to the MNIB.
Carlton Gulley, one of the 14 farmers who benefitted, contributed to the discussions during the training.
Gully told farmers, “This is very important for us. These lessons here today are things we must learn and implement in the management of our farms. Any banana plants we purchase from now on, we must be able to manage them to full maturity, to get some benefits.”
The Ministry of Agriculture continues to follow up with Gulley and the13 other farmers by conducting routine site visits and providing other technical and physical support, such as in the management of pests and diseases.
Extension Assistant, Prince Matthew, who supports the farmers, participated in the training as well.
“Most of the areas where I work are with banana farmers, so the information I got here at the training will be very timely,” he said.
In the ministry’s efforts to resuscitate the industry, the Inter-American Institute of Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) also provided support, through the development of a Banana Tech Pack, a technical guide that includes recommendations on pest and disease control, follower setting and the timing of applications of key banana inputs, including irrigation, along with illustrations of some of the key banana production practices.
This training follows two practical sessions held in 2020, which focused on areas such as Pest and Disease Management and Control Measures for the Management of the Moko Disease and Black Sigatoka. This Tissue Cultured Banana Pilot Project forms part of the Government of Grenada’s COVID-19 Response and Mitigation Plan for the Agricultural sector. A total of fifteen (15) plots were established using the Tissue Cultured Plants (William Variety) received.