CARDI launches  one-year agro project
August 23, 2013

CARDI launches one-year agro project

The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agricuture {{more}}continues to provide assistance for the advancement and product diversification of the small, but resilient agro-processing industry here.

On August 14, CARDI launched a one-year project dubbed “Multiplying and Evaluating Roots and Tubers, in particular Cassava, Sweet Potato and Yam varieties suitable for value addition,” funded through a joint Technical Cooperative Agreement between CARDI and IICA.

The components of the project are: To promote good manufacturing practices among cassava and other root crop processors; the multiplication of clean, high yielding planting material (of cassava and sweet potato) for disdistribution to Barbados and the OECS; to conduct organoleptic testing (taste testing) of the selected and validated sweet potato varieties for consumer acceptability.

The project commenced in January of this year and continued last week with a workshop in which close to 30 local agro-processors were introduced to the concepts of networking/group formation, in an effort to encourage collective action among agro-processors in building the industry.

Michael Dalton, IICA’s technical specialist, stated that the workshop was a component of the project which, in a profound and systematic way, will be used to continue addressing the issues affecting the production and processing of sweet potato and cassava in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

He said Wednesday’s workshop would focus on developing networking among the agro-processors, outlining the commonalities among them, the benefits and advantages that could be derived as established, well managed groups through networking.

Dalton added that there is potential for the development of secondary industries from these crops (cassava and sweet potato) and that IICA and CARDI, through the technical cooperative agreement and in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, have sought to promote research and development of these crops to assess the processing potential, as well as increase the bilateral trade with other countries in the region. Thus, in addition to the supplying of planting material throughout the region, the research work is targeting the produciton of sweet potato chips, farine and its subsidiary products.

CARDI’s local representative, Dr Gregory Robin, indicated that the project is linked to several others, which include the intervention by the CFC, through which five cassava/farine processing facilities were upgraded and improved structurally, and two others, jointly funded through the CARICOM/JAPAN initiatives, “the sweet potato planting material project” and the other “increasing productivity of cassava in the Caribbean using high yielding varieties,” to be done in collaboration with the Tissue Culture Laboratories at Orange Hill.

Training of the agro-processors continued on August 21, when they were taken on a field trip to several upgraded agro-processing facilities. On September 10, another workshop will take place, focusing on the aspects of “Improving Food Safety Management Practices for roots and tubers processing,” followed by another field trip on September 18. These sessions will be conducted by food technologist Wendy Michael.

The project has an overal budget of EC$162,000 of which EC$52,000 has been allocated to St Vincent and the Grenadines.