Farmers and field workers in Grenada are now more knowledgeable about maximising the production of yams.
As part of ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Agriculture to promote food security by increasing production of the staple, an interactive training session was recently conducted at the Mirabeau Propagation Station.
The session featured presentations by key departments and stakeholders on recommended propagation, harvest and post-harvest management practices, along with pest management strategies, which can all contribute to increased production.
“Trainings like these always go a long way to support us farmers,” said Matthew Phillip, one of the participants who is now eager to propagate his planting material donated by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Carlton Gulley, another participant, said the education drive by the Ministry, along with the donation of the planting material, can strategically position Grenada to become a key exporter of yams in the Caribbean. “Every day is a learning process for us farmers and today was one of those days,” he remarked.
“I think this is a good initiative for us farmers. Understanding what is happening with St Vincent, it may take a while for them to get back into production, so this is an opportunity for us farmers to take advantage of that market,” he added.
Thousands of subsidised planting material, including yams, are prepared each year by the Ministry of Agriculture for farmers and gardeners.
Allison Haynes, Head of the Agronomy Department and Manager of the Mirabeau Agricultural Station, explained that the Ministry has noticed below normal production levels, compared with the amount of planting material bought each year – a situation the Ministry wishes to change through education and support. “We thought it would be best to have this training prior to distributing the yams to farmers, to build your capacity in yam production,” she told the farmers. “We want the training to assist you to multiply your yams, so you can have significant quantities to sell.”
The training included presentations on the Mini-setting Method and propagation by Troy Augustine, Agronomist with responsibility for Root Crops, who serves as the Unit Coordinator for SAEP and Francis Noel, Pest Management Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture. Recommendations and available treatments were discussed by Kellon John from a local Agri-input supplier.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Forestry currently propagates about nine varieties of yams at its Mirabeau station, all of which are edible and exportable. Farmers familiar with the traditional planting methods for yams, are encouraged to utilise the Mini-setting Technique, a method that allows for the rapid multiplication of the seed yam, which increases production of the crop.
May is identified as the optimum planting season for yams, and the Ministry will make available a wide variety of tubers for sale during the annual Plant Distribution Season. Farmers and field officers who participated in the training are expected to adopt some of the best practices in Yam Production that will allow for increased production levels.