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Regional Symposium on Protected Agriculture hailed a success by participants

Participants and facilitators at the recently held Regional Symposium on Protected Agriculture

Participants and facilitators at the recently held Regional Symposium on Protected Agriculture

Trinidad and Tobago:- The Caribbean Agriculture and Research Development Institute (CARDI) hosted a Regional Symposium on ‘Strengthening the Protected Agriculture Industry for improved food and nutrition security’ at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad from Wednesday 21st to Friday 23rd November, 2012.

These facilitators from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) included Professor Dongxin Feng, Deputy Director General; Professor Jiang Weijie, Professor Sun Rifei and Associate Professor Yu Hongjun.  Technical presentations by the Chinese Professors were made on ‘Soilless culture for Protected Agriculture systems’; ‘Crop variety and pest management for tropical/protected agriculture systems.

Professor Dongxin Feng said that ‘international cooperation is one of the most important for Research and Development for CAAS’.  Having established relationships with eighty countries across the world, CAAS sought to develop a relationship with the Caribbean region through the signing of Memoranda of Understanding with CARDI and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).  This Symposium, she said, ‘is just the start for a long term relationship with the Caribbean’; as through this medium CAAS is securing details on successes and lessons learnt across the Region.  Why China you may ask?  Well, Professor Weijie answers, ‘In South China, we have a similar climate to the Caribbean and currently we have 3.5 million hectares under Protected Agriculture cultivation’.  His advice to would-be PA farmers … ‘you must be willing to embrace technology and invest time and energy’.  Training, he said, such as that offered by CARDI is critical to success for a new PA farmer.

Technical Presentations by representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture were made on the topic ‘Status on Protected Agriculture in the CARICOM Region’, inclusive of Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago.

The Symposium included a poster display, lectures and two field trips to protected agriculture operations in Trinidad, namely Mr. Phillip Lewis, Executive Member of the Greenhouse Growers Association and Greenhouse farmer (primarily tomatoes) in Grand Couva, Central Trinidad; and Mr. Ronald Dipsingh, Hydroponics farmer (primarily lettuce) in Carapichaima, Central Trinidad.

Some twenty-five (25) technical participants attended the Symposium and represented ten (10) countries, including Barbados, Belize, China, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Webster Wilberforce Mc Pherson, Consultant Agronomist with Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries shared insights into that country’s PA operations.  With some two hundred and sixty-one currently in production, they have seen a significant reduction in imports for tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers and romaine lettuce.  He shared that while in 2007 over 500,000 kgs of sweet peppers were imported into Jamaica, 2011 figures show that the figure has declined to 140,000 kgs.  Also, currently the local production of lettuce is about 130,000 kgs and meets local demands; so Jamaica has for the last three years not imported lettuce. This clearly lends to the potential of PA for positively impacting on the Region’s import bill, which hovers close to US$4 B.

Amir Pulido, an Extension Officer with Belize’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture says that ‘PA is considered to be the future in vegetable production’.  The Belize farmers are being taught to build their own structures.  Amir says of the Symposium ‘it has been very interesting, learning new things and networking’.

Tyrone John, Head, Crop Research (Ag.), at St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ministry of Agriculture says that with the one hundred and thirty (130) PA systems in that country, they are about to embark on three Greenhouse Parks with the European Union assistance.  These Parks will be established in the Windward, Central and Leeward parts of the country.  His country, he said ‘is focused on achieving food security as its objective, while encouraging young entrepreneurship and increasing employment’.

Young Nakisha Mark, a Research Assistant with the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus said that the Symposium provided an opportunity for her to network on technologies in use across the Region.

The Symposium was held with the assistance of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and sought to sensitize technical support personnel to emerging technologies and practices in protected agriculture; and to develop a framework for information sharing among technical personnel involved in the development of the Protected Agriculture (PA) industry in the Caribbean Region.

Mr. Luther St Ville, Operations Officer of the CDB is noted to have said that partnering with CAAS and CARDI on this project is ‘in keeping with CDB’s mandate to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty in the Region’.  He postured that ‘PA is a promising technology and can assist rural farmers in increasing their levels of income’.

Protected Agriculture (PAS) is knowledge intensive and participants got a scope of PA in a leading and developed country.  ‘This Symposium told us what we need to do to move PA forward’ says Dr. Janet Lawrence, Head of CARDI’s Trinidad and Tobago Unit and Thematic Leader: Emerging Issues.

CARDI focus on Protected Agriculture includes capacity building and infrastructure strengthening.  Interventions are being made along the value chain to strengthen current marketing and trading linkages; enhance production systems through the demonstration of GAPs; increase the knowledge and skill of stakeholders through training; improve information access to stakeholders; strengthen farmers groups; and develop agri-business clusters.

This partnership with CAAS is part of CARDI’s overall approach to bring new technology and additional experienced human resource to support the development of agriculture in the Region.

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Participants and facilitators at the recently held Regional Symposium on Protected Agriculture

Participants and facilitators at the recently held Regional Symposium on Protected Agriculture

Trinidad and Tobago:- The Caribbean Agriculture and Research Development Institute (CARDI) hosted a Regional Symposium on ‘Strengthening the Protected Agriculture Industry for improved food and nutrition security’ at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad from Wednesday 21st to Friday 23rd November, 2012.

These facilitators from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) included Professor Dongxin Feng, Deputy Director General; Professor Jiang Weijie, Professor Sun Rifei and Associate Professor Yu Hongjun.  Technical presentations by the Chinese Professors were made on ‘Soilless culture for Protected Agriculture systems’; ‘Crop variety and pest management for tropical/protected agriculture systems.

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Professor Dongxin Feng said that ‘international cooperation is one of the most important for Research and Development for CAAS’.  Having established relationships with eighty countries across the world, CAAS sought to develop a relationship with the Caribbean region through the signing of Memoranda of Understanding with CARDI and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).  This Symposium, she said, ‘is just the start for a long term relationship with the Caribbean’; as through this medium CAAS is securing details on successes and lessons learnt across the Region.  Why China you may ask?  Well, Professor Weijie answers, ‘In South China, we have a similar climate to the Caribbean and currently we have 3.5 million hectares under Protected Agriculture cultivation’.  His advice to would-be PA farmers … ‘you must be willing to embrace technology and invest time and energy’.  Training, he said, such as that offered by CARDI is critical to success for a new PA farmer.

Technical Presentations by representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture were made on the topic ‘Status on Protected Agriculture in the CARICOM Region’, inclusive of Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago.

The Symposium included a poster display, lectures and two field trips to protected agriculture operations in Trinidad, namely Mr. Phillip Lewis, Executive Member of the Greenhouse Growers Association and Greenhouse farmer (primarily tomatoes) in Grand Couva, Central Trinidad; and Mr. Ronald Dipsingh, Hydroponics farmer (primarily lettuce) in Carapichaima, Central Trinidad.

Some twenty-five (25) technical participants attended the Symposium and represented ten (10) countries, including Barbados, Belize, China, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Webster Wilberforce Mc Pherson, Consultant Agronomist with Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries shared insights into that country’s PA operations.  With some two hundred and sixty-one currently in production, they have seen a significant reduction in imports for tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers and romaine lettuce.  He shared that while in 2007 over 500,000 kgs of sweet peppers were imported into Jamaica, 2011 figures show that the figure has declined to 140,000 kgs.  Also, currently the local production of lettuce is about 130,000 kgs and meets local demands; so Jamaica has for the last three years not imported lettuce. This clearly lends to the potential of PA for positively impacting on the Region’s import bill, which hovers close to US$4 B.

Amir Pulido, an Extension Officer with Belize’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture says that ‘PA is considered to be the future in vegetable production’.  The Belize farmers are being taught to build their own structures.  Amir says of the Symposium ‘it has been very interesting, learning new things and networking’.

Tyrone John, Head, Crop Research (Ag.), at St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ministry of Agriculture says that with the one hundred and thirty (130) PA systems in that country, they are about to embark on three Greenhouse Parks with the European Union assistance.  These Parks will be established in the Windward, Central and Leeward parts of the country.  His country, he said ‘is focused on achieving food security as its objective, while encouraging young entrepreneurship and increasing employment’.

Young Nakisha Mark, a Research Assistant with the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus said that the Symposium provided an opportunity for her to network on technologies in use across the Region.

The Symposium was held with the assistance of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and sought to sensitize technical support personnel to emerging technologies and practices in protected agriculture; and to develop a framework for information sharing among technical personnel involved in the development of the Protected Agriculture (PA) industry in the Caribbean Region.

Mr. Luther St Ville, Operations Officer of the CDB is noted to have said that partnering with CAAS and CARDI on this project is ‘in keeping with CDB’s mandate to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty in the Region’.  He postured that ‘PA is a promising technology and can assist rural farmers in increasing their levels of income’.

Protected Agriculture (PAS) is knowledge intensive and participants got a scope of PA in a leading and developed country.  ‘This Symposium told us what we need to do to move PA forward’ says Dr. Janet Lawrence, Head of CARDI’s Trinidad and Tobago Unit and Thematic Leader: Emerging Issues.

CARDI focus on Protected Agriculture includes capacity building and infrastructure strengthening.  Interventions are being made along the value chain to strengthen current marketing and trading linkages; enhance production systems through the demonstration of GAPs; increase the knowledge and skill of stakeholders through training; improve information access to stakeholders; strengthen farmers groups; and develop agri-business clusters.

This partnership with CAAS is part of CARDI’s overall approach to bring new technology and additional experienced human resource to support the development of agriculture in the Region.