Friday, October 23, 2009

Pineapple varieties in Belize being experimented with!

Different varieties of Belize grown pineapples.

Investing in the expansion of Non- traditional Commodities for future Export Markets

Belmopan - 21 October, 2009

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) is focusing in promoting the production of new and niche crops both for the domestic and export markets. It has embarked in acquiring improved germplasm in plantain and pineapple varieties for distribution to farmers.

This diversification initiative for non-traditional commodities will greatly improve food security and income generation for most families in rural communities who are dependent on agriculture as a form of living. The Department of Agriculture through its Research and Development Station and the Extension Service will provide the necessary skills in field management to ensure the sustainability of this initiative.

Two varieties of pineapples were imported into the country to improve production and quality for processing. Smooth Cayenne was imported from Mexico and MD2 was imported from Costa Rica. The planting materials will be distributed to farmers in Stann Creek and Northern Toledo Districts who will benefit from this project.

The Citrus Products of Belize Company Ltd (CPBL) is demanding 8 million lbs annually of the Smooth Cayenne variety. This year farmers received 17 cents per pound for Smooth Cayenne and 15 cents per pound for Sugar Loaf from CPBL. Sugar Loaf is a variety which was traditional produced but which is not desirable for processing into concentrate. Sugar Loaf is more adaptable to local conditions, cheaper to grow and is demanded by the fresh fruit market.

Smooth Cayenne is more suitable for processing (canning) because of its acidity and low fiber content. The fruit has a cylindrical form and weighs 1.8-4.5 kg. It has the absence of spines on the leaf margin (present on the leaf apex) which allows for easier management in the field.

Smooth Cayenne is a variety less tolerant to pest and diseases.

The MD2, is a new hybrid variety which is tolerant to heat stress, pest and diseases and is a dual purpose pineapple (suitable for processing and the fresh fruit market). This variety is now being encouraged by CPBL as a better fruit for processing and the fresh fruit.

The seeds will be multiplied at the Stann Creek and Central Farm Agricultural Stations and provided to farmers. MAF maintained a 2-acre plot of MD2 pineapple; the planting material was imported for field testing and eventual seed multiplication; the pineapple fruits are bearing and culinary testing is being conducted to determine the acceptability of this variety for the fresh market.

The area under pineapple production in 2008 was 177 acres with an average yield of 11,875 lbs per acre. Currently farmers are growing two varieties, the Sugar Loaf (95%) and Smooth Cayenne (5%) varieties.

A total of 43,000 dwarf curare plantain seedlings were obtained from GALILTEC in Honduras for distribution to farmers to increase production for the domestic and export markets. A total of 20,000 seedlings will be distributed in the Chunox and Sarteneja areas to increase the acreages to 50 for the export market. The rest of the seedlings will be planted at the Agriculture sub-stations at Yo Creek, Central Farm, Stann Creek and Toledo Districts to supply farmers with planting material. Some has been distributed to farmers for planting.

General Characteristic of this variety are: Plant Height - 1st year 2.5 meters; Produces 35-50 fingers/bunch,5-7 hands/bunch, weight of fingers 0.8-1 lb; resistant to panama disease; Flowers at 35-40 weeks after planting; Harvest at 10-12 weeks after flowering. Biggest advantages: shorter tree height, higher plant density and higher number of fingers per bunch compared to local varieties.

In the course of the year 50 farmers from the Corozal District were trained nursery and field management. As a result of these initiatives, farmers are in a better stance in developing plantain for export.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries remains committed to the development of the agriculture sector and this investment will address the feasibility of producing, processing and marketing of pineapple and plantains for domestic and international markets. It will also provide an alternative income generating activity for the farm family and thus improve the economic stability of this country by earning the needed foreign exchange and food security.


“Agriculture – Pillar of the Belizean Economy”.

Contact: Mr. Manuel Trujillo, National Crops Coordinator, Research and Development Station, Central Farm, Cayo District, Tel: 501-804-2131

1 comment:

edvin said...

i think it would be very nice to inform the people what are the diseases in Belize and how to deal whit the problem