With concerted efforts on to ramp up agricultural production, special focus in being placed on ensuring that there is “clean planting material”, especially with respect to certain root crops like sweet potatoes.
In bringing these plans to fruition, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, says 88 acres of land is being set aside to ensure access to critically important disease-free germplasm, so farmers can get the most from their harvests. Through this initiative, he said the Ministry will develop a germplasm bank to facilitate the collection of local varieties of crops.
“The technical people call it germplasm, in my layman terms I call it nurseries, because basically you are planting material under controlled conditions to make sure you have clean material for the farmers to plant. Our focus is on sweet potato, cassava and yam. We have been working with the Food and Agriculture Organisation to have clean planting material for sweet potato in particular, because we keep repeating the planting material and it is prone to disease which would lead to reduced yields,” he explained in an interview with The Barbados Advocate.
His comments came as he indicated that the Wakefield Plantation, formerly owned by CLICO, is being brought back into production and will be used for this purpose. Minister Weir said the St. John property has more than enough acreage to engage in such a project, and steps are being taken to ensure that the land has good access to water, to ensure the success of the initiative.