A Sorry Tale: Demise of Bajan Cherry, Agriculture and …
Dr. Robert Lucas gave an insight about what has led to the unflattering development of Bajan Cherry. Food for thought – David, blogmaster
I would like to explain some facts. Firstly I just came across this post from a couple of days ago.
I was the agronomist at Soil Conservation who was responsible for the propagation of the Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra) from leaf-tip cuttings from new flushes. This technique hadn’t been used before in Barbados and to ensure rooting of ninety percent the humidity of nursery bed had to be increased to the dew point (point at which there is water condensate on the cuttings to prevent drying out. This posed a problem of damping off due to fungal diseases. To prevent such, all cuttings were treated with a fungicidal dip and the enclosed nursery was subjected to daily sprayings.
The procedure was a success and many plants true to type (same as the parent plant from which the cuttings were taken) were obtained. This was done to ensure that variations in soluble solids were kept to a minimum. Prior to the propagation, several meetings of the Soil Conservation Board took place. Present were Peter Webster, Edward Cumberbatch, David Croney L.G. Miller and myself. Miller was the driving force behind the whole enterprise. At these meetings I pointed out the difficulties that would be encountered (harvesting, cost of production and so on). Miller insisted that he had considered all of the obstacles and as far as he was concerned he was good to go with the project.
I left to study Food Technology as people trained in the discipline would be needed. When I came back on a vacation trip I was told that having gotten Soil Conservation under the aegis of the Agricultural Development corporation to plant cherry trees, Miller was not purchasing the cherries He was getting the finished concentrate from South America. I phoned Miller to ascertain what the real position was. He told me that it was cheaper for him to get the raw material from South America and was no longer interested in the enterprise. I wanted to know from him, why he insisted that Soil Conservation planted the trees if he knew he wasn’t going to use the fruits. He had nothing to say about that.
So soil Conservation was left with a lot of cherry trees, but no one to purchase the fruits. The same thing happened with guava. Sam Bharath in Trinidad had developed the Centeno Prolific ideally suited for processing purposes. I wrote Sam and got him to send cuttings. They were planted out at Swans but nothing came of the enterprise.
Lucas explained further in a second comment:-
At least some good did come about. A lot of unemployed persons harvested the cherries and guavas (at no cost to themselves apart from time and labour) for sale to the public. A real merry -go-round. You will soon hear we need to plant more fruit trees. When I was Soil, I imported new varieties of mango from Florida (Kent,) and avocado (Lula). In the latter case the Lula was imported to ensure that harvesting of avocado extended from June to the end of the year, since harvesting of the local types Pollock and Simmonds ( superb fruits) ended about September. I went through out the country, selecting for avocado on the following traits: absence of water in the seed cavity; ease of peeling; absence of fiber in the flesh; for green color skin (purple colored skin resulted in unsightly looking salads, a result of pigment seeping out). An orchard was established consisting of both avocado and mango.. The orchard was surveyed and the site of each individual type was recorded. I had the foresight to purchase a mist blower (the first to be used in Barbados) for spraying against pest and disease when the plants grew too tall to be sprayed by the use of the ordinary spray can. All of these were left for the persons who came after me. Even wrote an extension [extensive] bulletin on grafting and budding techniques to be used to train workers in propagation techniques. You wouldn’t believe what happened. The avocado trees were destroyed due to bad management, it was claimed wood ants (easy to fix.; slackness). The survey chart of position of and names of and varieties of individual trees was either lost or misplaced. So that’s the position.