Ministry Of Agriculture Hosts Third Tissue Cultured Banana Pilot Project Training

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.