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MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE INTRODUCES WHITE POTATO TO COMPLIMENT ITS FOOD SECURITY PROGRAM
Tuesday 22nd March 2011

The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment has carried out successful initial trials on white potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), which aims to boost food security and maximize farmers option in producing other staple based commodities.

The practical experiment was conducted on one variety called the “English” on just under half of an acre of lands at Christian Valley to ascertain the commercial feasibility of the crop, which, matures within 70 -75 days.

Ag. Director of Agriculture Jedidiah Maxime explained the harvesting of the first crop, which yields approximately 1,600 lbs of white potatoes of different shapes and sizes, is an important achievement to the Antigua & Barbuda’s food security.

According to Maxime, these successful experimental results constitute a significant improvement in the potatoes ability to be cultivated, here, to add to the sustainable agriculture sector, in light of peak prices of food on the global market.

Maxime stressed, the introduction and development of the new commodity has crucial economic significance.  “In 2008, we realized that the country was importing approximately 25 -percent of the volume of 16 -million lbs of vegetables annually at a cost of $ 3.5 million dollar.”

“The level of yields that we achieved from this trial is very encouraging, we believe, that if we undertake the development of this commodity we will not only be able to produce significant amount of what we demand locally, but, also our food security will be ensured because it is a very easy crop to produce, ”  said Maxime.

Meanwhile, Technical Consultant & Agronomist, Julius Ross said the data and the technology utilized during the experiment would be documented and tabled at the Ministry’s level to determine the way forward.

Extension Officer Owolabi Elabanjo noted, his appreciation for the process, he said, “extension is the heart of agriculture and whatever technology that is available whether variety/ input. We would use our medium to take it to the farmers.”

Elabanjo said, the transfer of knowledge and technology will play a critical role in the development of the crop commodity.

Central Marketing Corporation, General Manager Dalma Hill added the result of the experiment is "very very good, interesting different, shapes and different sizes. This is a new product to introduce into the Antigua market. Now, we will have to do a lot of things to ensure that we understand the application of this product.”

He noted the usage for the potatoes will be different “some will be good for baking, roasting, frying.”
He disclosed that from the initial yield “we will sell but we want we want to sell to controlled market. So, that we could get feedback on the taste…”

Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment Hon. Hilson Baptiste said, he is elated about the progress of the ministry’s food security program.

“I am of the view that it is the beginning of great opportunity for the farmers of Antigua & Barbuda.  We import approximately $ 3.5 million worth of white potatoes annually. That is a lot of money, we have to  be spending. So, the challenge is on us to empower the farmers to now, begin to produce a quick crop and put some monies in the farmer’s pocket.”

The minister thanked the technicians and the staff at Christian Valley Station. He also urged the technicians to disseminate the datas c
 


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