Two new hybrid disease-resistant varieties of tomatoes, the Summer Star and Striker, were unveiled at the Ministry of Agriculture’s research station at Bodles, St. Catherine, on Wednesday (February24).
Their development was a collaborative effort between the Ministry’s Research and Development division, Ansa Seed Company of California, USA and St. Jago Farm Supplies, St. Catherine.
Both varieties are among four hybrids researched and developed over the 10-year life of the collaboration, specifically bred for the region with tolerance to the Yellow Leaf Curl (Jheri Curl Virus). The others are the AMSA 425and Tropical Glory.
Consequent on the success of this venture, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, extended an invitation to other entities to partner with his Ministry, through the Centre of Excellence, in utilizing the land and facilities to establish additional experimental plots.
Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), examines one of the two new hybrid tomatoes unveiled during a field day and launch at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Research Station, Bodles, St. Catherine, on Wednesday (February 24). The two varieties- the Summer Star and Striker – were the result of collaboration between the Ministry’s Research and Development division, Amsa Seed Company, California, USA and St. Jago Farm Supplies Limited, Spanish Town, St. Catherine. Looking on is Amsa Executive, John Wallace.
Dr. Tufton also urged that the data and results of the research conducted be incorporated into training modules, so that they can be applied to every day practical challenges.
He said that it was a means to an end, when research is actually applied to the farmer and the practices of the farmer, in order to better the fields and the output in the fields.
“It’s a big issue for me, but I think our academic institutions, for a long time, including the higher learning institutions, have placed too much focus on theoretical constructs without sufficient focus on practical application,” he lamented.
He added that developing countries like Jamaica do not have the luxury of financing research, or accommodating research that has no practical application.
Dr. Tufton said that it was the need to encourage research and better use of technology that led to the launch of the Centre for Excellence for Advanced Technology in Agriculture, at the Bodles Research Station
“We want to know how to manage water better, farmers must learn that. We want to know how to deal with soils and soil management, how to deal with particular pests, and it must be transferred to the farmer in the field,” he insisted.
“The Centre of Excellence is intended to be, in the initial stages, a virtual centre that develops a research agenda for the farmers and to satisfy the needs of the Jamaican consumers or the marketplace, and that agenda should be influenced by the challenges that those farmers, those primary producers, currently face,” the Minister said.
He noted that the 10-year experimental tomato research project has yielded well over 400 varieties, which signifies the need for collaborative efforts in driving the food security policy.
“We want to take advantage of markets that have emerged, markets that are here and will emerge over time, in order to create economically viable food chains, which will employ people and which will guarantee the consistencies that are required, both in terms of quantity and quality,” Dr. Tufton stated.