PR – The Ministry of Agriculture, through the OECS Regional Agriculture Competitiveness Project (AGRICOM), has offered to extension officers, farmers, and other technical officers, methods of improving their capacity in the agronomic management of tree crops.
More than 20 participants were exposed to four days of technical training on the advancement of soursop and guava cultivation.
The activity was the first in a series of technical training exercises being coordinated under the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and facilitated by Technical Expert, Dr. Abel Reboucas. The training focused on the cultivation of soursop and guava, the economic importance of the crops, their genetic aspects, varieties, pruning, and fertilisation.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Elvis Morain, impressed upon the participants the need to use the knowledge garnered to enhance their management of these particular crops.
He said, “This is important so that we can lift the quality of our exports.”
This aspect of the AGRICOM Project falls under component three which seeks to build capacity in the agriculture sector. Project Coordinator, Gregory Delsol, explained the reason for selecting guava and soursop.“Soursop has become an emerging export crop for Grenada. We have a unique advantage in that Grenada is the only country that can export fresh soursop to the United States,” Delsol stated. “We believe that we can get better yields if our farmers start to do some of the practices that were explained and demonstrated by the facilitator.”
Guava, he said, is used extensively in the agro-processing sector, and as such, was ideal for the training provided.
The training had both theoretical and field components, with participants being brought to the farms of two seasoned farmers: Gregory Hagley for the production of soursop and Keith Clouden for information on guava.
Participant Nigel Gibbs, who is also the Supervisor of Propagation, said his propagation methods will now be tweaked to ensure that the plants are protected from diseases.“When we grew soursop before, I did not understand the connection between the phytophthora and the anthracnose and the level of nitrogen that is present in the plants. We learnt from the training that it is a magnet for those diseases, so in my fertilisation regime within the nursery, I now know that I have to manipulate my nitrogen input in such a way that the plants would not attract the unwanted disease in the phytophthora and anthracnose,” he said.
Farmer Vernice Cadoo said she is grateful for the knowledge she gained on pruning. “I now know how to prune, and I am looking forward to the benefits. I was against pruning of my guava trees because I felt that the tree was losing too much but now that I know, I will be making this a regular practice,” she said.
Extension Officer, Melissa Tyson looks forward to sharing her new found knowledge with farmers. She said, “I am hoping that by transferring this knowledge to farmers, they would see an increase in their yield.”
The AGRICOM Project aims to improve competitiveness in the agricultural sector. With seven more training sessions to be held, the ministry hopes that at the end of the project, there will be at least 12 functioning productive alliances that will be contributing to the overall development of the sector.