Contributed by Aldo Hanel, CABI.
Brasso Secco is a pristine environment located in the Northern Range of Trinidad in close proximity to the world famous Asa Wright Nature Centre. This farming community, among others, is nestled deep in the bosom of the of the Northern Range where approximately 300 family farms depend on Christophene production for their economic survival and well-being. Agriculture, and in particular “Christo” as the crop is fondly called, is the main source of income to more than 75% of them. Any major pest or disease could be devastating not only to the livelihood of these families, but also to the country’s environment if its control results in the inappropriate use of pesticides.
An outbreak of Gummy Stem Blight occurred 11 years ago and the disease is now endemic, affecting 100 percent of farms. Could an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy be adopted to control this fungal disease and to protect the livelihoods of farmers while protecting this pristine environment?
The Plantwise programme in Trinidad and Tobago is hosting a Brazilian intern from Faculdade Integrado de Campo Mourão, studying and working as a researcher in their Entomology Department who will work with key stakeholders in the Plant Health System: the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, NAMDEVCO and the University of the West Indies to quantify the impact of pests and diseases on Christophene production and determine the feasibility of adopting an IPM approach for sustainable production.
This internship will document the methods of production used by farmers and their knowledge regarding the control of pests and diseases. Following the survey and data analysis, samples will be forwarded to the laboratory to have a confirmation of all present pests and diseases and provide a reliable diagnose of the problem. Plantwise expect to provide both short-term solutions, sharing the latest information on how to manage the most common pests and diseases to the farmers by organizing a Plant Health Rally and to determine the feasibility of adopting an IPM approach for sustainable Christophene production to be applied within the next couple of years, as well as updating Plantwise’s Knowledge Bank and the Invasive Species Compendium.
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