Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2022. 5:19 pm CST.
Photo Credit: MAFSE
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The first of four soursop cultivation workshops for farmers conducted by Brazilian expert Dr. Raul Reboucas was held today Thursday in Central Farm, said the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE).
The Brazilian agronomist who holds a doctorate degree in Tropical Fruits from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, will be reaching approximately 90 farmers in the workshops to be held up to Monday.
The visit by Dr. Reboucas is facilitated through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“The main topics that Dr. Reboucas will be imparting to farmers will be pruning, hand pollination, nutrition, pests and diseases, weed control, and fruit bagging,” said Senior Cooperative Officer and Focal Point for the FAO-led soursop project, Michel Lewis.
“Based on his knowledge, Dr. Abel believes those are the main areas in which the farmers need to develop their capacity.
“Soursop is a fruit that if you don’t bag it in its development when the skin is soft, a seed borer insect goes into the fruit and lays eggs inside the fruit. After a while when the fruit gets bigger, the skin gets harder, and the insect is not able to penetrate.”
After today’s workshop which was attended by 21 Cayo farmers, the second workshop will be held on Friday, October 7 at Yo Creek for 20 Orange Walk and Corozal farmers. The third will be on Saturday, October 8 at the Ayinha Farm in Lemonal for 20 Belize District farmers and the final workshop will be on Monday, October 10, at the Stann Creek Agriculture Station at Nine Miles on the Stann Creek Valley Road for 20 Stann Creek and Toledo farmers.
Lewis said that while the workshops will start with a theory session, most of the time will be dedicated to hands-on practical training.
Lewis said that Dr. Reboucas will evaluate the Ministry’s nursery.
“He will do an assessment to see where there needs to be an improvement in terms of how the plants are taken care of and how to ensure that we have certified seedlings. For you to have quality fruits, it all starts with the seedlings. So, if you don’t have quality seedlings, then obviously you have a challenge in having quality fruits.”
Barry Palacio, MAFSE’s National Coordinator for Non-Traditional Fruit Trees at MAFSE, said the workshop is in fulfillment of the Ministry of Agriculture’s outreach to support the soursop industry in Belize. So far according to Palacio, Belize has approximately 400 acres of soursop. He said the industry is growing as farmers are planting more and more.
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