Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is expected to begin the cultivation of white potatoes in February this year.
Project Coordinator Rohan McDonald told the API that the initiative on white potatoes is a spill off of the CARICOM Mandate 25/25, which seeks to reduce the food import bill in the region by 25% by the year 2025.
He said Dominica and Jamaica are already cultivating white potatoes on a large scale and the Ministry of Agriculture here in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is liaising with those countries as they embark on this initiative.
McDonald said the project has three phases, namely, to procure the varieties of white potatoes that are suitable for the tropical condition; the testing phase which involves choosing agro-ecological zones that are ideal for the cultivation and production of white potatoes; and the commercialization phase.
The Project Coordinator noted that all along these phases the ministry will consult with all stakeholders including farmers and supermarkets to conduct surveys. He added that once the testing phase is over and they move to commercialization, a production plan would be introduced to indicate when, how much, and where to produce the potatoes. The Project Coordinator said two varieties of white potatoes, the Desiree and the Spunta, are expected to arrive here this week to begin the testing phase.
Crop Researcher in the Ministry of Agriculture Ruthvin Harper said once the seeds arrive, it is his duty to set up the experiment and produce the results for the ministry. He said twenty-four (24), demonstration plots have been established, and each plot will contain both varieties of white potatoes. Harper noted that, once planted, a crop of white potatoes will take about 3-5 months before harvesting.
Currently, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines import approximately five million (EC) dollars in white potatoes annually.
SOURCE: Agency for Public Information (API)