Estwick: Technology in Agriculture is Vital

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Agronomists David Bynoe (left) and Stevenson Skeete (right), showing the two sets of crops.?? On the left shows hot peppers grown under row cover while on the right are those grown in an open field; today at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Food Crop Research Field Day at Graeme Hall, Christ Church. (A.Skeete/BGIS)

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The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management has been making great strides in the application of greenhouse technology to produce increased and better crop yields.

This was highlighted today at the Ministry’s Food Crop Research Field Day at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.

Officials from the Central Agronomic Research Station, led by Agronomist Stevenson Skeete, have been exploring the use of row covers in the cultivation of hot peppers and beans with some very encouraging results.

During a field tour with farmers, officials of the ministry and agricultural stakeholders this morning, Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick gave his full support to the use of technology in the agricultural sector and encouraged farmers to adopt techniques such as row covers.

"One of the fundamental ways in which we have to increase our production of fruits and vegetables in Barbados would be to utilise technology wherever possible…We want to be able to say to Barbadians that there is a low-cost way of achieving many of the production advantages that one would usually get within the large greenhouse application of that technology.

"…It is this type of research that the Ministry needs to push and advance to the farming community and that farmers need to take advantage of, so that they can not only increase their domestic production but that they can… feed themselves and their families," Dr. Estwick said.

Meanwhile, Agronomist, Stevenson Skeete added that the results of the research trial on project peppers had been very positive and one of the most impactful he had seen so far.

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Agronomist Stevenson Skeete shows two hot peppers, the larger ono on the left, grown under row covers, while on the right, one grown??in an open field. (A.Skeete/BGIS)??

"Often the improvement is usually 10, 15 or 20 per cent but this one factor of covering the hot peppers in these special shields has given us a dramatic increase," the Agronomist pointed out.

In agriculture, row covers are protective materials used to shield crops from harsh elements including cold, wind and damage from insects.

The research trial by Mr. Skeete showed that the hot peppers grown under row covers could be over five times the size of others cultivated in the open.

The advantages of row covers include:?? protection from adverse heat, cold and wind, reduced incidence of pest damage; row covers are flexible and can be moved around easily; increased moisture and humidity; increased yield and crop quality; and the cost of implementing row covers is much lower than installing a full greenhouse.

andre.skeete@barbados.gov.bb

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