Project completed in 2008
The broad objective of the project is to enhance the viability and competitiveness of sugar industries in the Caribbean through a comprehensive field development programme which runs as a complementary activity to other development activities including a factory development programme. The project enhances the competitiveness of the regional sugar industries by way of an increase in income to farmers (especially smallholders) through the use of improved varieties, improved agronomic practices and cost reduction strategies. Project components included: (a) establishment of a nursery for improved varieties of seed cane; (b) farmer participatory evaluation of improved cane varieties; (c) farmer participatory training in improved agronomic practices; (d) pilot testing of a pivot centre irrigation system; (e) applied research and development into factors affecting yield decline; (f) financial and economic evaluation of optimum farm modules for viability; and (g) dissemination of project results.
This project facilitated the new varieties getting in the possession of farmers and estates simultaneously. The farmers’ preparedness to plant dibbled tops, as against whole stalks, allowed for far more efficient use of planting material than would normally be achieved on estates. As it turned out, the timing of this project was fortuitous in that it permitted development of a momentum in variety propagation and distribution just when activities on Government run estates became curtailed. By the second year of the project the major repository of good quality seed cane of newer varieties in the industry was on farmers’ holdings.
Likewise, a number of estates had been adopting the highly efficient centre pivot and drip irrigation systems but these technologies, because they involved heavy capital investment, were largely out of reach and yet to play a part on farmers’ holdings. This project succeeded in levelling the playing field somewhat. By grouping contiguous farms to achieve an economy of scale, selected growers have been able to benefit from the greater efficiencies associated with a centre pivot irrigation scheme.
In addition to these activities, the CFC project was instrumental in generating synergies with EC – financed activities in the Caribbean sugar sector.