Research to Extend Shelf Life of Potatoes, Determine Cyanide Levels in Cassava


The Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division (FSPID) is conducting research, aimed at extending the shelf life of five varieties of sweet potatoes, and to determine cyanide levels in cassava.
The varieties of potatoes being targeted by the research are Eustace, Fire on Land, Clarendon, Quarter Million, and Miss Mack, which are sold on the local and international markets.
“The research is currently going on, and at the end of it, we are hoping that we will have sufficient information that will assist potato growers in being able to preserve the shelf life (of their crops), and, of course, make money, because the losses will be minimised,” said Deputy Food Storage Officer, and Director of Laboratories, Donald Hinds.
He told JIS News that the research is into its seventh month, and is expected to last for one year, adding that the findings will be presented to relevant stakeholders.
The project, which is being undertaken by the FSPID’s Post-harvest Unit in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Scientific Research Council (SRC), is to come up with a methodology, that will address the inability of local farmers to consistently produce high quality sweet potatoes.
A major obstacle to achieving this goal has been yield losses due to poor post-harvest handling and storage. Manual harvesting and poor storage practices result in mechanical injury to marketable tubers and subsequent entry of micro organisms resulting in internal breakdown and loss of saleable tubers.
The research will develop post harvest practises to extend the shelf life of harvested sweet potato tubers and recommend practices for handling and treating the tubers after harvesting.
As to the cassava research, Mr. Hinds pointed out: “We use cassava as flour to make bammies… but there are some cassavas that are poisonous, they have a high level of cyanide so we want to ensure that, in the trade of our products, no barrier is placed against us, saying that the cyanide level is too high.”

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