Plant Production and Protection Division - AGP
Seed and Plant Genetic Resources Service - AGPS

Improved Seed Production: CARICOM Countries and Suriname


[GCP Projects list]

Donor Government of Italy
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Ministries of Agriculture, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the University of the West Indies (UWI)
Executing Agency FAO


The CARICOM Region (including Suriname) has a wide range of under utilized germplasm of the most common food crops which have the potential of contributing to increased crop production and productivity. Earlier efforts at agricultural diversification and increasing crop yield, date back to the 1970's and 1980's when activities for varietal improvement and seed production were initiated with the support of several donors/donor agencies. Some of these efforts included the European Development Fund (EDF) project on aroids in the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries, the FAO funded Yam and Cassava Development projects and the various seed projects supported by UNDP, FAO, the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and other bi-lateral donors/missions. To complement these efforts, the FAO project on "Improved Seed Production: CARICOM countries and Suriname" Phases I (GCP/RLA/108/ITA) was approved and started operations in November 1992, followed up by a PhaseII, which started in 1994.

Prior to the commencement of the FAO Regional Seed Project there were information gaps on the status of germplasm and seed programme activities; no seed policy either at Regional and National levels; no efforts, except in Guyana, were made to develop seed certification standards and procedures in the CARICOM region. Furthermore, awareness in the area of seed as a contributor to high crop productivity, food security and a business opportunity for the rural population was highly limited in most of the countries. There was no information on characteristics of crop cultivars used in the region and neither was there any documented information on the demand/supply situation for the planting materials required for crop production.

Project Objectives

The general objective of project GCP/RLA/108/ITA, is to improve the quality and increase the availability of the main food crops through provision of good quality seed. The immediate objectives of the project are:

Assisting with the development of National seed programmes of member countries of the CARICOM through infrastructural development and training of professionals and technicians, especially in the private sector.

Establishment of a germplasm information system at the regional level to facilitate information exchange and sharing among agricultural researchers, producers and business personnel.

Preparation of facilitative documents on seed policy, quality standards, legislation and baseline information on seed demand and supply.


Technology transfer

Necessary technology transfer in seed production was effected to professionals, technicians and farmers through training (Regional and National), fellowship studies and conferences.

  • Training

      From the inception of the project in December 1992 to date, a total of 1,196 people from the CARICOM region have been trained in areas of germplasm characterization, seed production, quality control and policy issues.
  • Introduction of appropriate technology
      An appropriate mechanical harvester for Sea Island Cotton (Gossypium barbadense) cultivated in Antigua, Barbados and Nevis was introduced.

      Improved germplasm of cowpea (Vignia unguiculata), pawpaw (Carica papaya), forage grasses, rice (Oryza sativa) and garlic were introduced into the region.

      Virus-free potato seed was introduced from Cuba for evaluation in the CARICOM region.

      The project sponsored the production of an easy-to-use citrus root-stock and scion selection discs to assist extension personnel in advising the farmers on the appropriate stock-scion combination in the control of citrus tristeza virus (ctv) presently causing major concerns in the citrus industry of the CARICOM.

    Establishment of a Germplasm Information System

      The Caribbean Seed and Germplasm Resources Information Network (CSEGRIN) software was developed by the project to facilitate information exchange among regional scientists in the area of germplasm. The latest version of the programme is tri-lingual (English, French and Spanish) and it enjoys patronage beyond the borders of the CARICOM region where countries and institutions are taking advantage of its user-friendly and graphic attributes - absent in other existing similar programmes.

      Further expansion of CSEGRIN is being done by including a seed information module concerning seed production, processing and quality topics.

    Seed Documents

      In order to facilitate seed programme developments and thus speed up the full establishment of a comprehensive seed programme, about 26 documents varying in subject topics from Germplasm Issues to Seed Policies were produced. These include the following:

      • Seed Certification (Acts, Regulation and Standards) for true seed.

      • Technical Standards for vegetative planting materials (under development).

      • Baseline Information on Seed Demand/Supply for the CARICOM.

      • Seed policy documents for Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.

      • Partial Varietal Catalogue for Sweet Potato cultivars available in the CARICOM region.

      For further information please contact Mr. C.H. Rosell, Senior Officer, AGPS.

      Go to the FAO Home Page, to the FAO Agriculture Home Page or to GCP Projects list.