Conference Papers & Abstracts

Conference Papers

Prevalence of anemia in relation to food security

Prevalence of anemia and the dietary intake of children ages 5-9 in Trinidad and Tobago

Tropical forages Mulato II grass (Brachiaria hybrid, CIAT 36087) and forage Sorgum (Sorghum Bicolor) for silage conservation and sheep production in St. Kitts and Nevis

Using social network analysis to understand how social capital influences knowledge flows in rural communities


Abstracts: Scientific Conferences

Using social networks to understand the social ecological resilience of smallholder farming systems in Kenya and Saint Lucia

C.M. Eidt, A.S. Saint Ville & Gordon Hickey

Presented at the Canadian Association for Food Studies (CAFS), Brock University, St. Catherine's, Ontario, May 26, 2014
There is growing recognition that social capital embedded in the social networks of rural communities represents an often untapped resource, which is important in building resilience and improving food security outcomes. Trust, reciprocity, and social networks have been found to be the building blocks of resilient social ecological systems that help actors to innovate, adapt to, and create change. Social networks, as the structural element of social capital, offer an analytical framework to investigate interactions among smallholder farmers in agricultural and food systems. Using Social Network Analysis we sought to better understand the social ecological resilience of smallholder farming systems in two case study areas, Kenya and Saint Lucia.
In Kenya, we compared two rural villages, Mwitasyano and King’ang’ini. Data were collected through 145 household surveys of farming households. Similarly, in Saint Lucia we investigated smallholder farmer households in two rural farming communities of Black Bay and Marquis. Data were collected through 112 surveys of farmer households. Data were analyzed using UCINET software for network analysis and NETDRAW for network visualization.
Our study identified social networks operating among smallholder farming systems in these distinct social ecological systems, performing critical functions, and facilitating collective action. Mapping of community knowledge networks identified structural constraints to knowledge flows as well as opportunities to improve innovation, resourcefulness, and adaptability to respond to change. Better understanding of social networks in farming systems has the potential to improve the design of science-based food security policy and enhance the social ecological resilience of food systems.

Agricultural restructuring and farmer livelihoods in St Kitts and Nevis following the collapse of the sugar industry

Kristen Lowitt & Gordon Hickey

Presented at the Canadian Association for Food Studies (CAFS), Brock University, St. Catherine's, Ontario, May 26, 2014
The agricultural industry in the two-­‐island state of St Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies is undergoing substantial change following the collapse of the sugar industry in 2005. In the wake of this collapse, farmers are having to transition into other types of livelihood-­‐generating activities, and are also being forced to diversify into other types of food production. This paper draws on interviews undertaken with farmers in St Kitts to examine the collapse of the sugar industry, as a particular social-­‐ecological system, and the types of strategies farmers are employing to transition into new types of income-­‐earning opportunities and livelihoods both within and beyond agriculture.

Use or mis-use of pesticides: Analysis of knowledge, attitudes and practices of farmers in the Caribbean

P. Bynoe and D. Simmons
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Guyana

Presented at the International Food Security Dialogue, Edmonton, Canada, 2014
Food security exists when “all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain an active and healthy life.” (WHO, 2013). Although pesticides contribute significantly to food security, there are potential risks to biodiversity and human life when pesticides are mis-used. The objectives of this study are: (i) to assess farmers’ state of knowledge, attitudes and current practices (KAP) regarding the use of pesticides in selected communities in Guyana, Saint Kitts/Nevis, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago; (ii) to examine the levels of pesticide residues in tomatoes in Guyana and Saint Lucia; and (iii) to explore the relationship between the level of pesticide residues in tomatoes in selected farming communities in Guyana and Saint Lucia and farmers’ KAP regarding the use of pesticides. This study involved a survey of 737 farmers in 15 communities in the four countries, as well as laboratory determination of pesticide residues on tomatoes.
Some of the findings indicate there was a high incidence of the problem of pests coupled with a high incidence of inorganic pesticide application, and indicators of little knowledge of alternative pest control. Further, the correlational statistics indicated a link between attitude and practice but interestingly, not between knowledge and good practice. Pesticide residues were present in three of the ten samples collected from Saint Lucia, however, none was above the MRL. In Parika, Guyana pesticide residues were present in two of the eleven samples, and in Black Bush Polder, pesticide residues were present in four out of the nine samples. Both samples in Parika and 1 sample in Black Bush Polder had residues higher than MRL. The study further indicates that the Saint Lucian farmers were more knowledgeable than the Guyanese farmers. The study concludes with specific recommendations to improve the farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices.

Challenges and opportunities for more integrated food security policy and governance in the Caribbean Community

Kristen Lowitt, Arlette Saint Ville, Caroline Keddy, Gordon M. Hickey, & Leroy Phillip
Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Presented at the 15th Annual Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) Conference, UWI, Trinidad, April 2014
Food and nutrition security is a growing challenge for Caribbean countries. Declining earnings for export crops, under-developed domestic food production, and high reliance on imported foods all contribute to this problem. Increasingly, Caribbean countries recognize that addressing food security issues requires collective regional action and more integrated approaches to rural and agricultural development. In this context, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has endorsed efforts to establish more coordinated food security programming, including the Jagdeo Initiative and the Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy (RFNSP). However, realizing more coordinated action and implementing the agreed upon actions and priorities remains a challenge. In this paper, we examine the different visions and approaches to food security operating among CARICOM regional institutions and national governments, with a view to informing how synergies may be strengthened. The resulting matrices highlight similarities and differences in approaches to food security across these scales, and point to strategic opportunities and priority areas for working towards more integrated food security policy and governance.

Impact of fluctuated temperature and light on phytochemical quality changes of eggplant and cucumber during post-harvest storage

Patrick E. Cortbaoui, Michael O. Ngadi
Department of Bioresource Engineering, McGill University, Montreal Canada
Presented at the 17th World Congress of Food Science and Technology & Expo Montreal, Canada, 2014
In tropical countries, fresh vegetables travelling from “farm-to-fork” are continuously exposed to environmental circumstances where temperature and solar radiation could seriously affect their phytochemical composition and therefore, their overall post-harvest quality. Phytochemicals, organic compounds found in plants and known for their potential health benefits, provide us with valuable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits. In this work, freshly harvested eggplants and cucumbers were bought from a local supplier and stored for 10 days in controlled chambers at different combinations of constant and fluctuated temperature and light. This experimental set-up allowed us to simulate similar conditions of supply chain segments (production, transportation, marketing and consumption). Crude extracts of freeze-dried produce were used to determine the total phenolic and flavonoid contents using Folin-Ciocalteau and aluminum chloride calorimetric assays respectively. In addition, the antioxidant capacities were measured according to the radical scavenging assays such as 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and 2,2'-azino-bis-3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid (ABTS). All these reactions were monitored spectrophotometrically. Using kinetic models, we were able to quantify the changes of phytochemical quality over time. Changes in eggplant and cucumber antioxidants during storage at constant and fluctuated environmental conditions were investigated and demonstrated. Exposing vegetables to undesirable temperature and direct sunlight irreversibly damaged their quality profile. This study was useful to advance knowledge on characterizing post-harvest quality loss of fresh horticultural commodity, making emphasis on health attributes rather than conventional sensory parameters such as color and firmness and aiming to effectively quantify post-harvest quality losses of fresh produce along the supply chain in a more holistic manner.

Influence of growth media, cultivars and harvest times on Postharvest quality of selected tomato cultivars grown under tropical greenhouse conditions

J. James, K. Campo, W. Isaac, M. Mohammed, N. Mark and L. Solomon
Department of Food Production, Faculty of Food and Agriculture, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad
Presented at the CAES/CFCS/ISHS CONFERENCE 2013
Agribusiness Essential for Food Security: Empowering Youth and Enhancing Quality Products
A major disadvantage of protected greenhouse structures is their ability to affect high marketable quality fruits due to variables such as high temperatures and fluctuations in relative humidity. This study focused on marketable quality of seven tomato cultivars grown in two media, coconut coir media and sharp sand and grown under tropical greenhouse conditions. Cultivars IT71 (75.7g/fruit) and Versatile (45.7 g/fruit) planted in coconut coir generally accounted for significantly higher yields. The highest number of marketable fruits was observed in varieties IT71 (54) and Hybrid 61 (43), grown in coconut coir. Hybrid 61 had the greatest stability across both media. Extensive pre-and postharvest physiological fruit defects (fruit cracking, grey mold, blossoms end rot (BER) and shrivelling) were noticeable in both media, with significantly higher loses occurring in cultivars grown in sharp sand. BER and fruit cracking accounted for the highest defects in cv. Striker and cv. Versatile respectively. Cultivar IT71 had the least fruit defects. Further research on pre-harvest and post-harvest management strategies is necessary in order to curtail such defects.

Social capital and knowledge networks among smallholder farmers in St. Lucia: the role of social learning

A.S. Saint Ville1, G. Hickey1 , and L.E. Phillip2
1Department of Natural Resources Sciences and 2Department of Animal Sciences, McGill University
Presented at the CAES/CFCS/ISHS CONFERENCE 2013
Agribusiness Essential for Food Security: Empowering Youth and Enhancing Quality Products
Social capital embedded within communities represents an untapped resource that could facilitate enhanced smallholder farmer adaption and innovation in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean. As the region confronts increasing food imports and rising non-communicable diseases, resilience of small- scale farmers and their enhanced role in the agri-food sector, gains prominence. Using a case study approach, we investigated how social capital influences knowledge transfer among smallholder farmers in St. Lucia. We applied Social Network Analysis and Socio-Spatial Knowledge Network methodologies in two rural farming communities of Black Bay and Marquis. Data were collected through 112 surveys of farmer households. Data were analyzed using UCINET software for network analysis, SPSS V1 for statistical analysis and NETDRAW for network visualization.
Results showed that smallholder farmers received new knowledge from diverse sources: 60% received new knowledge from other farmers, 40% from extension officer, and 10% from the farmer’s cooperative and television respectively. Results also showed differences in knowledge flow between the two rural communities. Knowledge networks in Black bay appeared to be based on “weak ties” that facilitate the exchange of new information. In Marquis, knowledge networks appeared to be based on “strong ties” which foster group identity and cohesiveness but are less responsive to innovation and change. This provides strong evidence that social learning may operate as the primary means of knowledge exchange among farmers in these two communities.
The potential implication of these findings is that social learning by farmers from their peers, may become necessary as a result of recognized knowledge asymmetries within the agri-food sector of the Caribbean. Social capital embedded within farmer knowledge networks can be used to identify structural constraints to knowledge flow that may limit smallholder farmer innovation. Better understanding of social capital in rural communities has the potential to improve food security policy outcomes in the Caribbean.

Monitoring Codex Food Hygienic Principles at School Feeding Caterers in Trinidad, W. I.

Neela Badrie1, Inteaz Alli2 and Sophia Balfour1
1Faculty of Food and Agriculture, Department of Food Production, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
2Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry Macdonald Campus, McGill University, Ste-Anne- de-Bellevue, Québec, Canada
Introduction
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that nearly 4% of the children in Latin America and the Caribbean are malnourished. In keeping with the United Nations Millennium Development Goal # 1 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and Tobago, via the National Schools Dietary Services Limited (NSDSL) has contracted independent caterers to produce and deliver meals to over 120,000 school children in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools five days a week. The objective of this study was to monitor the provision of safe food at school feeding kitchens using criteria based on Codex Alimentarius recommended international code of practice - general principles of food hygiene (CAC/RCP 1-1969).
Methods
Checklists for monitoring food safety and kitchen hygienic practices (CAC/RCP 1-1969) were administered to 14.3% caterers in Trinidad by telephone and face-to-face interviews that were followed by tours of each facility. The checklist topics included the kitchen description, kitchen owner’s knowledge of food hazards and use of HACCP, prerequisites such as kitchen location, design and facilities, control of operations, maintenance and sanitation, personal hygiene, training and transportation.
Results
All (100%) kitchens had 11 to 20 employees, and sized at approximately 3000 to 4000 square feet, that served meals on a 20-day cycle. The kitchen owners were familiar with food safety hazards and used the preventative HACCP approach system from delivery of raw materials to distribution of cooked meals. At all kitchens, a critical control point was identified during boxing of the cooked food, where the supervisor monitored and documented temperature at 15 minute intervals. Only 1 out of every 10 caterers claimed to have written temperature log of cold storage devices.
The kitchen design, location, facilities and control of operations were in accordance with NSDSL, HACCP based protocol and Good Manufacturing Practices. Employee was trained in-house at least once a semester.
While privately owned pest control companies visited kitchens at least once a month, none of the kitchens owners knew the chemical, physical or biological agents used to control pests. Caterers purchase chicken, bread, cassava and roti from approved NSDSL suppliers. The fruits and vegetables were bought according to price, availability and with little emphasis on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
Conclusion
Breakfast and lunch meals from school feeding kitchens in Trinidad are produced in accordance with NSDSL protocol, however caterers should be aware of the pest control agents used in the kitchens and, approved vegetable and fruit farmers that follow GAP should be identified.
Acknowledgements: This work was funded by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD).

Improving the nutrition and health of CARICOM populations through sustainable agricultural technologies that increase food availability and diversity of food choices

Presented at the Annual Meeting of Caribbean Food Crops Society (CFCS), Caribbean Agro-Economic Society (CAES) and International Society of Horticultural Science (ISHS), June 30 – July 6, 2013 - Trinidad
Leroy E. Phillip1, Isabella Granderson2, Wendy-Ann P. Isaac2*, Theresa Thompson-Colón1, Arlette S. Saint Ville1, Gordon M. Hickey1, Sylvia Borucki1, Ansari Hosein3, Sonia Laszlo1, Kathrine Gray-Donald1, Chandra A. Madramootoo1
1McGill University, Montreal, Canada; 2University of West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago; 3Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Trinidad and Tobago
The overall goal of the “farm to fork CARICOM Project” is to improve the nutrition and health of primary school children. The project, which is multidisciplinary and being carried out in four countries in the region (Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia) makes a twofold intervention: agricultural technology interventions with farmers and nutrition knowledge interventions to improve the quality and diet diversity of meals for children in school feeding programmes. This “farm to fork” approach introduces methodologies that link applied agricultural and nutrition research to socio-economic surveys and focus group discussions with both with consumer household and farming communities to improve livelihoods. This innovative project addresses production constraints due to water scarcity, land degradation, bottlenecks in the food supply chain, and inefficiencies in post harvest farming practices. It also examines the level of consumption of vegetables and fruits as well as other factors that contribute to the rising prevalence of obesity and micronutrient deficiencies in the region. The results of the study are expected to lead to policy changes at the national and regional levels and to enhance CARICOM food and nutrition security in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Human development through education and community sensitization programmes is a major pillar of the project. One major expected outcome of the project is a change in consumer behaviour towards the consumption of a more diversified diet of fruits and vegetables.
Project results from baseline surveys indicate that food insecurity among farmer households ranges from 1% in Guyana to 14% in St. Kitts. Sample of consumer households in St. Kitts reveals a 20% level of food insecurity and a high prevalence (37%) of anaemia (haemoglobin <11.5 g/dL) among school children, though this was not associated with food insecurity. Results of the social capital mapping and social networks among farming communities in St. Lucia identified key barriers to knowledge flow and innovation among farmers.
The implications emerging from this project for the region present platforms for improving food and nutrition security using the Farm to Fork model in CARICOM; seasonal limitations in production of vegetables and fruits, and meat from small ruminants, are being addressed by introduction of drip irrigation and “protected agriculture” technologies; and, for the first time in St. Kitts and Nevis, establishment and conservation (as silage) of drought tolerant forages, Sorghum and Mulato grasses to increase small ruminant productivity.

 

Compositional changes of vine-ripe greenhouse tomato (Solanum lycopersicum, L.) cultivars from two types of growth media

Presented at the Annual Meeting of Caribbean Food Crops Society (CFCS), Caribbean Agro-Economic Society (CAES) and International Society of Horticultural Science (ISHS), June 30 – July 6, 2013 - Trinidad
Nakisha Mark, Majeed Mohammed, Wendy-Ann Isaac, and Leevun Solomon
Department of Food Production, Faculty of Food and Agriculture, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad.
Studies were conducted to investigate quality attributes of four tomato cultivars (Caraibe, Summerstar, Striker and Hybrid 61) grown in two types of media (Spent Mushroom Substrate (SMS) and Coconut Coir (CC) in a Gable roof greenhouse when stored at 20˚C for 10 days. The cultivars were analyzed for yield, colour, puffiness, number of locules, mesocarp thickness, pH, total soluble solids (TSS), total titratable acid (TTA), TSS:TTA and percentage decay –free fruits. The tomato cultivar Hybrid 61 grown in coconut coir had the highest yield without any incidence of decay after 10 days at 20˚C. On the other hand tomato cultivar Summerstar grown in both media had the highest incidence of fruit decay. Caraibe and Striker cultivars grown in SMS had a TSS value of 8.1 and 8.3 respectively and TTA of 152.08mg/100g and 221.2mg/100g respectively after 10 days at 20˚C. Striker cv. grown in CC had the highest mesocarp thickness (5.95mm) as opposed to Hybrid 61 grown in SMS which had the lowest mesocarp thickness (1.73mm). The study indicates that the physiochemical attributes of tomato cultivars can be affected by the media.
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Improving food and nutrition security in the Caribbean: Linkages among agricultural, health and social science

Conference on Linking Agriculture, Food & Nutrition Security and Health, February 7 & 8, 2013, hosted by the University of Saskatchewan 

L. E. Phillip1, I. Granderson2, W. Isaac2, T. Thompson-Colón1,  A. S. Saint Ville1, G. M. Hickey1, S. Borucki1, A. Hosein3, S. Laszlo1, K. Gray-Donald1, C. A. Madramootoo1.  
1McGill University, Montreal, Canada; 2University of West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago; 3Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Trinidad and Tobago
A high level of dependence on import and consumption of energy-dense foods within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has created a paradox of obesity and under-nutrition, threatening food security and population health. Under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund, McGill University and University of the West Indies, in collaboration with CARICOM institutional partners, undertook the “farm to fork CARICOM Project” to improve nutrition and health of primary school children. The project is multidisciplinary, and involves a combination of socio-economic surveys and focus group studies of household and farming communities, agricultural technology interventions with farmers, and nutrition interventions in school lunch programmes. The project addresses, in four CARICOM countries, problems of water scarcity, land degradation and inefficiencies in pre- and post harvest farming practices that underlie inadequate production and consumption of vegetables and fruits, leading to rising prevalence of obesity and micronutrient deficiencies in the region.   Project results from baseline surveys indicate that food insecurity among farmer households ranges from 1% in Guyana to 9% in St. Kitts. Among consumer households studied in St. Kitts, 20% experience food insecurity. The prevalence of anaemia (haemoglobin <11.5 g/dL) among school children in St. Kitts was 37%, with no association of this condition with food insecurity. In Trinidad, the prevalence of anaemia in children was lower (15%) and was not explained by dietary intake.   Seasonal limitations in production of vegetables and fruits, and meat from small ruminants, are being addressed by introduction of drip irrigation and “protected agriculture” technologies and, for the first time in St. Kitts, establishment and conservation (as silage for small ruminants) of  drought tolerant forages, sorghum and mulato grass.  Research in St. Lucia on social capital identified barriers to knowledge flow and innovation among farmers; these are emerging areas for further study of constraints to food security in CARICOM countries.   Acknowledgements:  This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, and with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency.   We acknowledged the support of the McGill Institute for Global Food Security, and are grateful for the collaboration and cooperation of our CIFSRF CARICOM Project Partners.

 

Effects of curing treatments on physic-chemical and sensory quality attributes of three pumpkin cultivars

Majeed Mohammed, Wendy-Ann Isaac , Nakisha Mark and Leevun Solomon
Department of Food Production, Faculty of Food and Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus
Studies were conducted to investigate the extent of physical, chemical and sensory quality changes in three pumpkin cultivars, Bodles Globe, Future NP 999 and Crapaud Back before, during and after curing treatments. Fresh weights of pre-cured fruits were 6882.0g, 4391.0g and 6394.5g for Bodles Globe, Future NP 999 and Crapaud Back respectively. Progressive increases in percentage fresh weight losses were noted before, during and after curing for each cultivar. Fruit length for each of the three cultivars was significantly different. Other fruit dimensions such as fruit diameter and cavity volume for cv. Bodles Globe and cv. Crapaud Back were almost twice as much compared to cv. Future NP 999. Flesh firmness was consistently higher as curing time increased for the three cultivars. The rough Crapaud Back cultivar skin had a lighter cream coloured skin than the Bodles Globe cultivar; although a slight fading was noted after curing. The bright yellow flesh colour at pre-curing with ‘b’ values of 75.05 was noted for cv. Bodles Globe, representing the highest value for all three cultivars while the lowest “b” value of 65.85 was obtained for cv. Future NP 999. Crapaud Back was the only cultivar which had consistent increases in total soluble solids before, during and after each curing period. Each cultivar exposed to 9 and 18 days of curing resulted in higher pH values when compared to their control counterparts where no curing was administered. Among the three cultivars Future NP 999 secured the best sensory quality ratings in terms of cooking quality, overall acceptability score, purchase preference score and recommended marketability score.

 

Supplemental Mulato grass silage fed during the night and sheep production in the Caribbean

Agribusiness Essential for Food Security: Empowering Youth and Enhancing Quality Products
Annual Meeting of Caribbean Food Crops Society (CFCS), Caribbean Agro-Economic Society (CAES) and International Society of Horticultural Science (ISHS), June 30 – July 6, 2013 - Trinidad
S Borucki,2 A Hosein,1 I Watts3, J Berry3 and L E Phillip,2
1Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Trinidad and Tobago Unit;  2Animal Science Department, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Montreal Canada;   3Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Inadequate quantity and quality of natural pastures during the dry season is a major constraint limiting the production and local supply of sheep and goat meat in the Caribbean. Mulato grass proved that can be successfully established and used for silage in the dry season. A study involving 50 lambs and kids was conducted in five different small holder farms in St. Kitts to determine the effects of supplemental Mulato II grass silage (MGS) in animal performance.  All farms had perimeter fencing (dog proof) and enclosure for semi-confined management at night.  At 12 weeks of age, the animals were weaned, weighed and randomly assigned to either (MGS) or no supplementation (NS). All animals grazed the natural pasture during the day and were confined with or without MGS during the night.
Table 1 shows that feeding Mulato II grass silage during the night did not to improve the low average daily gains achieved by the animals under natural grazing conditions in the Caribbean (50g/d).  The potential of Mulato II grass forages fed fresh or conserved as silage needs to be tested feeding the animals during the day.


1SEM Standard Error of the Mean; 2 LSD Least Square Difference
Acknowledgements This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, and with financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

 

Tropical forages Mulato grass and Forage Sorghum for silage conservation and sheep production in the Caribbean

Agribusiness Essential for Food Security: Empowering Youth and Enhancing Quality Products
Annual Meeting of Caribbean Food Crops Society (CFCS), Caribbean Agro-Economic Society (CAES) and International Society of Horticultural Science (ISHS), June 30 – July 6, 2013 - Trinidad
S Borucki,2 A Hosein,1 I Watts3, J Berry3 and L E Phillip,2
1Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Trinidad and Tobago Unit; 2Animal Science Department, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Montreal Canada; 3Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Poor nutrition is a major factor limiting the productivity of small ruminants in the Caribbean. Inadequate quantity and quality of natural pastures during the dry season is a major constraint limiting the local supply of sheep and goat meat. The objectives of this study were the establishment of drought-tolerant, high-yielding crops capable of good quality forage that could be preserved as silage for year-round production of forage for small ruminants. Two hectares of Mulato grass (Brachiaria hybrid CIAT 36087) were planted in the dry season on February 2012, with a section re-seeded on April 2012. The forage yield after 12 weeks of successful establishment was 4,783 kg of dry matter (DM) per ha. In July the Mulato grass was harvested and conserved as silage in 153 plastic bags of 20 kg and 550 silage bags of 11 kg, for a total yield of 10,317 kg fresh ensiled material per ha. During the wet season after 3.5 weeks of growth, the Mulato grass produced 10,465 kg DM/ha, 2.2 times more forage compared to the dry season. For the forage sorghum, two cycles of Great Scott brown mid-rib were established and harvested: one in the dry season and the other one in the wet season, March to May 2012 and November to January 2013, respectively. During the dry season the forage sorghum produced 1,870 kg DM/ ha with 81-day of growth, whereas in the rainy season, the forage sorghum produced 1.8 times higher, 3,429 kg DM/ha, with 53-day of growth. Successful establishment in the dry season and forage production during both the dry and wet season proved that Mulato grass and forage sorghum are valid forage options for small ruminant production under the Caribbean weather conditions, with the potential to increase farmers’ income and provide year-long meat protein sources for these communities.
This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, and with financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

 

Why not pumpkin: A case for increased pumpkin production to reduce carrot imports in Trinidad and Tobago

Wendy-Ann Isaac1, Ezra Bartholomew1, Isabella Granderson2, Nakisha Mark1 and Leevun Solomon1
1Department of Food Production, Faculty of Food and Agriculture, and 2Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
Pumpkin is a vegetable crop of economic importance inTrinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries. It’s an easily grown vegetable with high nutritional value. While pumpkin is low in calories and sodium it is high in fiber, and loaded with an important antioxidant, beta- carotene, which can be converted by our body into vitamin A. Pumpkin also contains a good source of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins E, C, thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, folate, potassium, copper and magnesium. Carrot on the other hand while low in calories and a good source of fibre is high in sodium. Similar to pumpkin, carrot contains an abundant source of beta- carotene, and high levels of vitamins C, E, K, B vitamins and several vital minerals, including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. While the nutritive value and health benefits of both vegetables are similar, the cost per pound for carrot to consumers is twice to three times the cost of pumpkin. In addition, pumpkin’s high fiber, low calorie and sodium content also make it a much desirable vegetable for persons requiring restricted sodium diets.
In Trinidad and Tobago, current carrot production cannot meet local consumption and its cost the Government around $50 million annually to import. Whereas, pumpkin production surpasses local demand and the excess are exported. There are also opportunities for enhanced productivity through the adoption of improved pumpkin varieties in the local production systems. This poster highlights pumpkin varietal studies conducted at the University of the West Indies and compares the nutritional value, taste and ease of growing. Given proper postharvest advice farmers can increase quantities of high quality pumpkin and products can also be introduced to the local market.

 

Food Security, Nutrient Intake and Growth in Two Caribbean Settings

W. Mumena1, L. Johnson-Down1, I. Granderson2, L. Phillip1, K. Gray-Donald1
1McGill University, Montreal, Canada; 2University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
Presented at the Sixth McGill Conference on Global Food Security
Objective: To examine the association of food security indicators and nutritional health of children aged 5-10 y in St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago, their situation of food security and the link between food insecurity and nutrient intake of these children.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey of children aged 5-10 years selected from 8 government primary schools in Trinidad and Tobago and 7 government primary schools in St. Kitts and Nevis. Schools were selected based on the high number of children who consumed the school lunch. Anthropometry (height and weight) was done at school and household food security, children intake and food frequency were collected by questionnaire with the children’s caregivers during a home interview.

Results: A total of 43% of the children in Trinidad and Tobago and 51% of the children in St. Kitts and Nevis reported to be lived in food insecure households. The difference of children’s micronutrient and food intake in food secure and food insecure groups is not evident. However, protein and fat intakes found to be significantly higher in food secure group. Overweight and obesity were not linked to food security. Food secure households are more likely to purchase more meats and that could explain the higher intake of protein in this group. Despite the high rates of food insecurity and poor intakes of several food groups, there is no evidence of poor growth in this study population.

Conclusion: In the study settings, food insecurity was linked to a significantly lower intake of protein and fat. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is not explained by living in food insecure households.

 

Understanding the livelihood realities of women farmers in Guyana, and the implications for agricultural innovation and local food security

Kristen Lowitt1, Arlette Saint Ville1, Ishara Mahat2, Kaywana Raeburn1, Gordon Hickey1, and Leroy E. Phillip1
1McGill University, Montreal, Canada;2 Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.
Presented at the Food Security Dialogue 2014 – Alberta, Canada
Women make a vital contribution to global agriculture and food security but the structural constraints that women face, and how they negotiate these challenges in order to improve their livelihoods, are not well known nor understood. In this paper, we examine the gendered nature of agriculture in Guyana, a CARICOM country, with a particular focus on the ability of women to access and control the resources necessary for their livelihoods. Drawing on results of a household survey and focus groups among farmers in Guyana, we find that while men and women often jointly manage resources within the household, women face particular constraints in gaining access to, and control of resources (water, land and markets) at the community level. Our findings also illustrate that gender, specifically the unequal power between men and women, intersects already complex community relationships, differentiated by ethnicity, age and class, to shape livelihood outcomes. We argue that innovation in farming systems to enhance local food security require that agricultural technology and policy interventions recognize the livelihood differences and realities between women and men within socially complex farming communities in the CARICOM region.
This work was funded by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD).

 

An integrated “farm to fork approach” to improving food and nutrition security in the Caribbean by linking agricultural productivity and diversity on small holder farms to school feeding programs (SFP)

L.E. Phillip1, Gray-Donald, K. C.1, Carvalho, R. M. P. de1,  Stanley, A.2,  I. Granderson, I.3 I. Liburd Willett4 and Madramootoo, C.A.1
1McGill University, Macdonald Campus, Canada; 2Department of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Cooperatives, St Kitts-Nevis; 3 University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago Department of Agriculture and Marine Resources and Cooperatives, St Kitts-Nevis; Ministry of Education and Information, St. Kitts-Nevis
Obesity in the Caribbean is linked to low consumption of fruits and vegetables, high intakes of fats, oils and sugar, and institutional constraints on domestic production of nutritious food. We undertook an intervention, with 800 children in four primary schools in St. Kitts-Nevis to increase the contribution to school lunch feeding (SF) of locally grown vegetables and fruits (FV); 16 small farmers were also equipped with technologies to improve agricultural productivity and diversity. Baseline FV consumption was one or less serving per day; overweight/obesity was observed in 20 % of the children. Throughout the 2013 school year, 12, 746 kg of new produce were supplied by local farms where drip irrigation increased yields for tomato, string beans and pumpkin by 230, 209 and 770 %, respectively. Six new fruits and four new vegetables were added to the lunch meal, whose nutrient content improved.  Despite major improvements in productivity and diversity of local produce, the supply fell short of the needs for a healthy lunch; this was due to seasonality in production and challenges in food procurement mechanisms. Improvements in child nutrition and adoption of a “home grown school feeding model” in the Caribbean would require profound and sustainable institutional changes.
This work was funded by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD).

 

Quantifying postharvest quality changes of fresh crops as affected by temperature fluctuations during handling process

Patrick E. Cortbaoui, Michael O. Ngadi
McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering, Montreal Canada
Presented at the NABEC Conference, Ontario, Canada, August 2014
Quality loss of fresh fruits and vegetables are of considerable interest due to their extremely high values exceeding 50% in some developing countries. These losses occur along the supply chain, from the field to the final consumer plate. The ability to provide high quality horticultural crop depends on activities along the supply chain. The causes of postharvest losses are many and varied. The deterioration of fresh produce may be the result of biological, chemical or physical factors. In tropical areas such as the Caribbean, these factors are mainly due to unfavorable environmental conditions. It is often difficult to ensure constant temperature during handling of fresh commodity. Produce quality can be irreversibly damaged by exposing it to fluctuated temperature when moving along various segments in the chain. In this work, kinetic models can provide a structural framework for quantitatively describing those quality changes. Most kinetic models account for the intensity of external factors such as temperature affecting the food components as a function of time. For the purpose of this study, two different scenarios of temperature fluctuations will be simulated based on real situations in both Guyana and St. Kitts’ supply chains. This study is an important tool, allowing the closing of major data gaps in the knowledge of quantifying postharvest quality changes of fresh produce as affected by temperature abuse during handling practices, aiming to recommend best strategies to reduce postharvest losses of fruits and vegetables in the Caribbean.

 

Taguchi approach for quantifying postharvest quality loss of fresh produce

Patrick E. Cortbaoui, Michael O. Ngadi
McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering, Montreal Canada
Presented at the ASABE International Meeting, July 2014, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Currently there is no methodology for effective measurement of postharvest quality losses of fresh horticultural crops. Quality is a complex multidimensional parameter. Quality loss is typically more difficult to measure than quantitative. In this work, Taguchi approach was used as a novel technique to quantify postharvest quality loss throughout handling chain of fresh fruits and vegetables. In order to minimize quality loss of a commodity, it is important to reduce variability around a customer-defined target instead of just meeting customer specifications. Taguchi was able to quantify quality loss as a deviation from the ideal target. For the purpose of this study, only variability caused by environmental factors (T, RH, Light) will be investigated along the supply chain of that commodity. To date Taguchi approach has been widely and successfully used in various subject areas such as: aerospace, sports, communications, environment, construction, energy, materials manufacturing, milling, welding, mechanical engineering, food processing and dental science. No application of Taguchi technique to measure postharvest quality loss has been reported until the present time.
This study provides an important tool, allowing the closing of major data gaps in the knowledge of measuring postharvest losses of fresh produce and the prediction of the outcome of different storage and distribution conditions, aiming to reduce a product’s quality loss and to improve supply chain settings. Therefore, the information that was generated should help stakeholders make better decisions regarding the control and reduction of postharvest quality loss of fresh produce.

 

Irrigated Vegetable Production in Guyana and St. Kitts-Nevis

Presented at the ASABE International Meeting, July 2014, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Raffaella M. P. de Carvalho, Chandra A. Madramootoo, and Felexce Ngwa
Department of Bioresource Engineering, Macdonald Campus, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Water, both in excess and in deficit, is a constraint to food security in the Caribbean Region. Improved water management, water conservation and drip irrigation have the potential to ensure a continuous year-round supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. A two year field study on soil moisture measurement and management, advanced irrigation scheduling technologies, and drip irrigation is being piloted in the CARICOM region. Extensive field measurements have so far been conducted in Guyana and St. Kitts. Crops grown include tomato, melons, string beans, cabbage, bora, egg-plant, peppers, cucumbers, carrots and pumpkin. Soil moisture sensors were installed on the pilot sites in Guyana and St. Kitts for irrigation scheduling. Irrigation schedules were developed based on soil property measurements and crop type. In St. Kitts for Tomato (S. lycospersicum), String beans (P. vulgaris) and Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) showed a yield increase of 230%, 209% and 770%, respectively. In Guyana, due to wetter conditions, the drip-irrigations systems were not used for all crop seasons. The highest yield increase of 33% due to irrigation was found with Red Beans (P. vulgaris). Bora(Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis) was the only crop that showed statistical difference at 95% confidence level between water application treatments. The 100% AWC irrigation refill treatment showed the best yield results.

 

Determining Irrigation Requirements in Guyana and St Kitts using the McGill IRRIMOD© Soil Water Balance Model

Presented at the ASABE International Meeting, July 2014, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Raffaella M. P. de Carvalho, Chandra A. Madramootoo, and Felexce Ngwa
Department of Bioresource Engineering, Macdonald Campus, McGill University, Canada
One of the most important challenges facing smallholder farmers in humid Caribbean climates is finding the best strategy to manage water resources. In humid regions the application of routine amounts of irrigation water at regular intervals often results in over irrigation, and waste of water and energy. The projected impacts of climate change might further exacerbate water scarcity leading to declines in agricultural productivity in the CARICOM region. This calls for greater efficiency in agricultural water use. Implementation of irrigation scheduling schemes which involve use of water management strategies to prevent over application of water while minimizing yield loss due to water shortage or drought stress could lead to more efficient agricultural production. A study was carried out to estimate the irrigation water requirement for vegetables grown at various agricultural sites in Guyana and St Kitts-Nevis. Using climatological data for the period 2005-2012, the McGill-IRRIMOD© soil water balance model was used to schedule irrigation and to determine season irrigation requirements. The results from this study demonstrated the need for supplemental irrigation of the rain-fed agricultural systems in all study years. Although Guyana experienced wetter conditions during the last 8 years, it was still necessary to supplement water through the irrigation system. There were site differences in irrigation requirements principally due to variations in rainfall and soil characteristics.

 

Barriers to Technology Adoption in the CARICOM and Peru

Presented at the Food Security Dialogue 2014 – Alberta, Canada
Jim Engle-Warnicka,b, Javier Escobalc, Sonia Laszloa,b,c and Kaywana Raeburna
a Department of Economics, McGill University; b CIRANO; c GRADE
One of the major challenges in bringing about change in farming practices is the willingness of farmers to undertake these changes. Even if the science behind the new technology is sound, tried and tested in experimental plots, evidence from around the world shows that farmers, especially small-scale or subsistence farmers, are often reluctant to adopt them. In 2011, a project was launched to improve food security in the CARICOM. We conducted producer household surveys in Guyana, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia and Trinidad &Tobago, as well as economics experiments in Guyana and Peru to better understand the market and non-market determinants of technology adoption. We found important market based barriers to technology adoption: notably, weak access to markets and financing. Demographic characteristics were also predictive: women and more educated farmers were more likely to adopt new technologies. Finally, our results suggest that in providing technical assistance, policy-makers might consider targeting their information to groups of farmers, allow these farmers to openly discuss this information, and allow the information to disseminate within the their social networks. Furthermore, we find evidence that technical assistance might be particularly effective if targeted to women, and allowing the diffusion process take place within their social networks.

 


Abstracts: Seminars

Improving CARICOM food security: novel approaches for mapping post-harvest losses of fresh produce

Patrick E. Cortbaoui
Ph.D. Candidate at McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering, Montreal Canada
Food security is an enormously complex issue that cannot be simply reduced to a single, basic poverty issue. A fundamental problem that underlies food security in CARICOM countries is the inefficient post-harvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables. This results in a high level of crop losses and major issues of food quality. Mapping post-harvest losses throughout the different segments in the supply chain is an essential operational strategy to enhance post-harvest management and to curtail quality loss of horticultural commodity. Therefore, in both St. Kitts and Guyana, three complementary experimental techniques for mapping post-harvest losses are recommended: 1. The first method consists of field-based activities using producer household surveys and mass-balance protocol. It enabled the assessment and quantification of post-harvest losses of local grown produce. 2. The second approach entails laboratory-based work to simulate the environmental conditions during post-harvest handling process. It is associated with activities investigating the effect of fluctuation of environmental factors over time on quality changes such as color, texture and phytochemical content. 3. In the third technique, the Taguchi experimental design will be used to quantify quality loss during handling process. This novel approach consists of reducing the variability of a process around a customer-defined target instead of just meeting customer specifications.

 

Assessment of post-harvest handling efficiency along Caribbean food supply chain and livelihood implications

Patrick E. Cortbaoui
Ph.D. Candidate at McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering, Montreal Canada
A fundamental problem that underlies food security in CARICOM countries is the inefficient post-harvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables. This results in a high level of crop losses and major issues of food quality. Post-harvest losses of fresh horticultural crops are of considerable interest due to their extremely high values, reaching 5 to 25% in developed countries and 20 to 50% in developing countries. Those losses are a major constraint to crop productivity and food availability for local households. The main causes of post-harvest losses of fresh produce in both St. Kitts and Guyana are: inappropriate handling and exposure to undesirable environmental conditions. Enhancing post-harvest quality management along all segments of the value chain, as the agricultural product moves from the farm to the consumer, will definitely lead to better livelihoods for local households. Minimizing post-harvest losses will positively affect livelihood by alleviating food insecurity, generating income and enhancing human health.

 


Abstracts: Workshops

Caribbean week of agriculture: Coming soon: a healthier and food secure Caribbean (October 2013, Guyana)

CARICOM Food Security Project: Information Dissemination Workshop
Bureau of Standards; 1-2 Century Dr. Tincity Industrial Estate Macoya Trinidad (March 5, 2013)