Northern Caribbean University (NCU), an institution operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Jamaica to implement an in-vitro propagation program for the Irish potato seed.
The MoU was recently signed between NCU, the Ministry of Industry Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, and the Scientific Research Council, in Kingston.
The institutions will use NCU’s laboratory to help facilitate the production of some 800,000 Irish potato tissue culture plantlets with micro tubers. The program is being funded with more than U.S. $141,500 over the next 12 months.
Karl Samuda, Jamaica’s minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, said the initiative will drastically reduce the import bill for Irish potatoes.
“This will set us on the right path as soon as possible so that we can save the US $4 million that we have to spend to import Irish potatoes,” Samuda said.
An NCU official said the effort will also aid students at the Seventh-day Adventist institution.
“This is a new program in biotechnology, which will enhance our undergraduate and graduate student program and at the same time provide assistance to the farming sector both in materials and technology,” said Dr. Vincent Wright, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, Allied Health and Nursing. The project will also bring income to the university, he added.
NCU is nationally known for its Natural and Applied Sciences, Allied Health and Nursing College’s long history of research in agriculture, nutraceuticals and other areas of research allied to applied sciences, health and nursing.
“Our lab at NCU would have needed support to execute this specialized project so the government agency therefore funded the procurement of the equipment that was needed for the labs at NCU and the two other organizations involved in the production of the potato slips,” explained Wright.
Lecturers and graduate students at NCU are actively engaged in research that has national food security implications, including a strong relationship with Jamaican scientific and government agencies.
NCU will be responsible in producing and marketing the quota of 266,000 Irish tissue culture plantlets, promote the seed program and transfer the in-vitro propagation technology to future stakeholders in the potato seed program in Manchester, the central region of the country.
University officials are happy that NCU is a key player in the national potato-growing project and will soon be planting on its farms in Goshen, St. Elizabeth, and assisting local farmers in Manchester.