Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Greenhouse Vegetable Production in the Dominican Republic

When you think of the Dominican Republic (DR), you probably imagine endless fields of bananas and rice. However, there is another agricultural sector booming in the northwest region of this Caribbean nation: greenhouse vegetable production. By 2014, the DR exported more than US$111.6 million of greenhouse vegetables, making it one of the most dynamic sectors in the agricultural industry of the country. Currently, there over 930 million square meters of greenhouses throughout the DR.
Dr. Liburd (far right) meeting with researchers
from the agricultural research center

One of the key organizations in the greenhouse sector is the Cluster de Invernaderos de Jarabacoa, or the Jarabacoa Greenhouse Cluster. The Jarabacoa Greenhouse Cluster was established in 2002 and is comprised of over 100 member farmers in the Jarabacoa region who produce vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant for local consumption and for export. The Jarabacoa Greenhouse Cluster offers technical assistance to its members on topics such as credit management, best management practices, business management, etc. They also help members identify and access new market opportunities. 

Recently, however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service detected the presence of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Ceratitis capitata), or medfly for short, in the eastern part of the country. The medfly is capable of causing extensive damage to a wide range of fruit, flower, and vegetable crops. In 2015, the DR lost an estimated US$50 million in vegetable production due to the presence of the medfly. As a result, the Jarabacoa Greenhouse Cluster requested the assistance of a Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer to train technicians and farmers on how to identify the medfly, take precautions to prevent the medfly from entering greenhouses, and treat greenhouses that may already be infected.

Dr. Liburd visiting a tomato production facility
in the Jarabacoa Greenhouse Cluster
In June 2016, Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Dr. Oscar Liburd, an Associate Professor from the Department of Entomology and Nematology at University of Florida, arrived to the DR. Dr. Liburd trained 105 (85 men and 20 women) technicians, farmers, and university students specializing in crop protection in strategies to mitigate and intercept medflies from entering greenhouses. His trainings also focused on managing medflies in the Dominican Republic, the biology and ecology of the medfly, monitoring devices and the use of attractants to manage medfly populations, and the implementation of reduced-risk pesticides.

Dr. Liburd also provided recommendations on how to establish a surveillance and quarantine program to impede the entrance of the medfly into greenhouses. As a result of his assignment, the Jarabacoa Greenhouse Cluster staff and members now have a greater understanding of methods to prevent and control the medfly in horticultural and agronomic crops, as well as a greater understanding of reduced-risk pesticides for medfly management. By providing producers with information on methods to identify the medfly and monitoring and management techniques to control populations, growers can hope for increased sales and exports in the upcoming growing season.

No comments:

Post a Comment