Cuban ambassador tours Barbados cassava projects

Cuban ambassador tours Barbados cassava projects
Published on June 24, 2014 Caribbean News Now
cassavaAmbassador Lissette Bárbara Pérez Pérez of Cuba (centre) and Dr J.R. Deep Ford, FAO Subregional Coordinator (right) take a closer look at a local cassava crop in Barbados


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — In its ongoing effort to address the region’s mounting $US4 billion-plus annual food import bill, the Food and Agriculture Organization, in close collaboration with other regional agricultural agencies, has identified cassava development as a key pillar of its programme of assistance.

In this regard, FAO, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Barbados Ministry of Agriculture, mounted a recent field trip with the ambassador of Cuba to Barbados, Lissette Bárbara Pérez Pérez. The aim is to develop a south-south cooperation program of assistance to develop a cassava industry in Barbados and the Caribbean.

Pérez visited four cassava fields in St George and St Phillip to have a first-hand look at activities. At plots set up by the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Company (BADMC), she was shown different cassava varieties and irrigation methods. In addition, at the BADMC’s processing plant in Fairy Valley, she surveyed operations that convert locally produced sweet potato, cassava, and breadfruit into flour and other value added products like cassava pancake and cornbread mixes. Interest was shown in expanding the current capacity of the plant and its equipment to fully take advantage of the opportunity for increased production and product development.

In a brief discussion at the end of the tour, FAO subregional coordinator, Dr J.R. Deep Ford, outlined the regional strategy being developed for the cassava industry and referenced the previous assistance offered to CARICOM countries by the government of Cuba through south-south cooperation. He expressed his hope that similar assistance could be provided to this current initiative in the form of technical assistance in the areas of agricultural engineering for field operation and processing, value chain development and agronomic management.

FAO’s initiative, improving national and regional food and feed systems, responds to the need in the Caribbean to increase production and productivity, use local products and reduce food imports. This initiative is being developed in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministries of Agriculture and other agriculture and food agencies in the region.

FAO has allocated resources and technical assistance to increase the acreage of cassava cultivated in the region. Calculations have established yields of between 30,000 and 40,000 pounds per acre as necessary for a viable and sustainable industry. Yields of this level will fuel processing plants to convert the primary product into a number of secondary value-added products including flour, fries, starch and chips as a component of animal feed and even beer.

These demonstration fields have been established to prove that farmers can obtain yields this level of production with improved varieties, management and timely operational procedures. Similar demonstration fields are about to be planted in Jamaica, Guyana and Grenada.

FAO and its regional partners are committed to supporting national government efforts to increasing agricultural production to reduce their food import bill. An important factor in achieving the goals set will be the south-south support received from countries such as Cuba that are much more advanced in production and use of crops such as cassava.


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  • Albert  On 06/25/2014 at 2:14 pm

    Don’t know how other Guyanese feel when they read of a two by four piece of land like Barbados with all those agricultural projects and Guyana could only be thinking about starting one. Barbados shows us what we could become with competent leaders considering the land and resources we have. Who could blame frustrated ambitious Guyanese for leaving.

  • Wycs  On 06/25/2014 at 10:32 pm

    Mr Albert, Could you please tell me what are all those agricultural projects Barbados has? Could you also tell me what is Barbados Economy like? Do you know that Barbados is in a bad way at this moment? Looking forward to your urgent reply. Thanks.

    • Albert  On 06/26/2014 at 2:27 am

      Mr Albert, Could you please tell me what are all those agricultural projects Barbados has?
      Like you I read the article above and wonder where a 2 b 4 land could grow anything much. But the idea was really not about the land but the spirit and drive of the people to develop their country in spite of their geographical limitation. Barbados does not have any major natural resources of note like Guyana but they have people in a transparent political system with good leadership. They are one of the most stable country in the region with a low crime rate and a relatively high standard of living.
      If memory holds most of there income is from tourism and remittances from abroad. They have a high debt to GDP ratio, which means they have to cut back on public spending by such things as laying off public employees. There is also a projected drop in tourist to the island.
      Which do you think is the better place to live in retirement: oil rich Trinidad, the wealthiest of these WI countries, or Barbados without any natural resource.

  • Wycs  On 06/27/2014 at 8:14 pm

    Albert, Many thanks for your reply to my Questions and you have some revelant answers.
    At this time I would not like to retire in either Trinidad or Barbados for obvious reasons.

  • Ron. Persaud  On 06/28/2014 at 12:22 am

    I am inclined to think along with Albert on this one.
    The cassava plant, genus Manihot, is broadly, but very importantly, classified into two categories – Bitter; and Sweet; – cassava.
    Bitter cassava is lethally poisonous and, because it cannot be differentiated from sweet cassava, has caused death among the Amerindians in Guyana. (Anecdotal evidence only.) It killed a cow and a dog, on separate occasions, in my experience.
    I would think that any serious and scientific investigation into the plant would be geographically based in Guyana.
    But I am not surprised!
    In the early 1960’s UWI and the Guyana Govt. flirted with the idea of establishing the UWI Faculty of Forestry and Mining in Guyana.
    But I guess that you guessed it.
    The University of Guyana thumbed down the idea.
    “We missed out!” is a peculiarly Guyanese refrain.

  • voicetonemood  On 07/13/2014 at 5:03 pm

    Reblogged this on voicetonemood and commented:
    If readers take this article for what it is worth, then they would see what being proactive really is…

  • I. Welch  On 07/15/2014 at 3:47 pm

    I’m understanding the objective of the demonstration is the 40,000 pounds per acre. This suggests Guyana, with it’s history of cassava production has not yet attained that level of yield. I have personal knowledge of two cassava flour mills under the supervision of GuySuco Other Crops Division back in the 70/80’s [there was also a third] producing flour to supplement wheat flour imports. Trials were also undertaken to employ the flour as a filtration coagulant in bauxite production. And then there was the by-product casreep. I would venture the bitter/sweet debate is a non-issue; there is a wealth of knowledge of the crop and it’s safe processing and use already in Guyana, the trick is to go find it.

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