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Snail attack


Heather-Lynn Evanson

Snail attack

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THE GIANT African Snail has started to attack crops of cucumbers.
It is that national pest, says the head of the Barbados Agricultural Society, along with problems of seed germination, that has seen the vegetable being in short supply in recent times.
These two problems have led BAS chief executive officer James Paul to call not only for a clean-up of the island, but for a reassessment of where Barbados sources its seeds.
“We’ve had some considerable challenges with cucumbers. It seems to be a favourite meal of the giant African snail,” Paul told the Daily Nation.
Speaking on Saturday as the Future Centre Trust held its Clean Up Barbados 2010 campaign, Paul said the many overgrown lots around the islands harboured pests like the giant African snail and rats that then came out to attack the produce in the fields.
“If we can control that bush element in our country that would also help. What we might need to see in future is a closer relationship between those involved in the campaign and those is the agriculture sector,” he said.
The minister further noted that farmers had been complaining about the germination rates of seeds.
“We need now to look at the whole question of where we are getting our seed material from because what some farmers have been saying is the germination rates of the seed material are a problem,” Paul said.
“It could be due too to the whole question of climate change; so we need to look carefully at what we’re doing in the tropics to see if the seed material actually meets the requirements of the atmospheric conditions in the tropics,” he added.
Meanwhile, chief coordinator of Caribbean Farmers Network, Jethro Greene, said there was no reason why farmers in Barbados and the rest of the region should be sourcing seed material from international shores.
“We have institutions like Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute and our universities. They should be charged and financed with that programme. Farmers organisations should not be dealing with this headache,” he stressed.
“But what has happened is that for many years, all our best brains and plant breeders have left and gone overseas and now that the agricultural opportunities have come to us, we do not have the technical capacity to deal with it. So we are getting second-class seeds from overseas,” Greene said.
He added regional governments needed to build the capacity of the research institutions to deal with such issues.

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