Soybean crop at CARDI Station, Central Farms, Belize
ST AUGUSTINE, Trinidad -- With a focus on increasing crop and small ruminant productivity by equipping the region’s agribusiness sector to deal with the challenges of climate change, increasing incidence of invasive pests, low productivity and increasing costs of inputs, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has established a revenue generating unit.
The unit, established in 2013 to supplement the Institute’s operating cost, has a focus to generate revenue from research activities with commercial potential and align CARDI’s technical assets for greater revenue generation and cost reduction.
The unit has since established 11 revenue centres in its first phase. Four of these are based in Belize and have been generating revenue from mercantile corn and soybean grain production and corn and soybean seed production and sale.
Some noteworthy achievements thus far include the following:
1) 29,000 lbs of corn seed was produced in late 2013 and sold for farmers to establish over 1,800 acres of corn for the 2014 crop. This represented a 50 % increase in corn seeds produced and supplied by CARDI for the region’s farmers. The new markets supplied with corn seed included 7,500 lbs of the variety of yellow field corn CARDI YC 001 for Grenada farmers to establish just over 400 acres for supplying to boiling and roasting fresh markets. The seeds are being distributed in Grenada by GEO F Huggins. An additional 1,000 lbs was also supplied to National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute of Guyana for evaluation and 10,000 lbs in Belize. A further 10,000 lbs of CARDI’s white corn seed varieties were also supplied to the ministry of agriculture in Belize for distribution to farmers for production of corn flour for the 2014 crop
2) Annually, CARDI has been producing corn and soybean grain, for livestock and the Mennonite poultry feed mills in Belize at competitive prices at its farm located in Central Farms, Belize, using a fully mechanized planting, harvesting and drying operation. The 2014 corn crop is on the way and is expected to produce 137,000 lbs of corn grain from 34 acres to supply to the feed mills. The soybean crop will be established in November 2014 and is expected to yield 141,100 lbs of soybean grain from 79 hectares.
The revenue generating unit expects to assist CARDI in achieving its mandate, primarily by increasing the availability and usage of CARICOM’s member states’ indigenous planting material to the wider Caribbean farming community; and providing sustainable technology, technical support and monitoring systems developed by CARDI to the region’s agribusiness sector.
Under the stewardship of Dr Arlington Chesney, executive director, the resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation unit was instituted in 2008 to attract and retain financial resources for research for development from international and regional sources. This became necessary since the contributions from member states have not increased relative to inflation over the years. The establishment of the revenue generating unit further supports this goal.