Friday, February 19, 2016

Greenhouse Production in the Dominican Republic

According to F2F volunteer Judson Reid, greenhouse production of fruits and vegetables helps protect the Yaque del Norte river basin in the Dominican Republic in several ways:
  • Higher yields in controlled environments reduce crop pressure on steep slopes, thereby reducing erosion and maintaining surface water quality.
  • Proper management in controlled environments decreases pesticide use.
  • Diversification into fruit and vegetable crops provide an alternative for coffee growers who currently face unprecedented disease pressure from coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix)
Higher quality products from controlled environments, such as greenhouses, are also suitable for export markets. As a result, farmers are able to generate more income, increase their standard of living, and create employment opportunities in their community.

Despite these benefits, greenhouse production in the Jarabacoa region faces numerous critical challenges and an uncertain future. Pests, poor market conditions, and lack of access to credit are current threats. More commonly, however, greenhouse producers listed a lack of training on Best Management Practices (BMPs) as the key barrier to realizing the full potential of greenhouse production. In November 2015, Mr. Reid traveled to the Dominican Republic to assist greenhouse producers in improving their greenhouse use and management. Mr. Reid offered training to over 100 producers and recommended improvements including: 
  • Develop enterprise budgets for new crops and traditional crops;
  • Plant crops at multiple dates to ensure that labor demand is spread evenly across the calendar year and peak yield coincides with peak demand; and
  • Increase thrips management by farm operators.
The Farmer-to-Farmer Program promotes people-to-people exchange and Dominican producers are not the only ones who benefited from Mr. Reid's assignment. Mr. Reid noted, “I have already integrated issues around thrips management in the DR into my educational programming with growers in the Northeast U.S.”

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