Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education ServiceAgriculture Production Program was recently granted a $725,000 research grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to conduct vegetable and fruit variety performance trials in the CNMI.
The college had just announced yesterday that it received another $460,000 grant to study the commercialization of rabbitfish. This new grant focuses on looking at taking an in-depth look at different crops and how they would fare in the conditions present in the CNMI.
In 2016, a community needs assessment conducted by NMC-CREES found that the identification and research of crops that are suitable for the CNMI’s environment was a high priority need. To do this, crop performance trials must be undertaken to determine crop suitability and viability as well as to expand and increase agricultural production of diverse, nutritious fruits and vegetables in the islands.
According to Solly Takai, NMC-CREES Agriculture Production Acting Program leader, the objectives of the research project include identifying current crop production systems and outputs in the CNMI, addressing challenges faced by farmers, and providing alternative farm practices that aid in preserving and protecting our local and natural resources, such as soils and water resources.
This research will be led by Takai, along with Arnold Route and Lawerence Duponcheel, program extension agents.
“We hope that this research will increase and enhance vegetable and fruit production in the CNMI. In the future we hope to see our local farmers and producers implementing some of the practices demonstrated,” Takai said.
Research will focus on the performance of current crop varieties used by local farmers and producers as well as the testing of new and improved varieties which may have market potential.
Patricia Coleman, acting dean of NMC-CREES, stated that multidimensional approaches in sustainable farm management systems that mitigate against the effects of climate change and enhance the farming community’s resilience will also be studied.
NMC-CREES provides technical assistance in the fields of agriculture, aquaculture, natural resources, community and youth development, health, and nutrition that is locally sustainable, environmentally safe, and economically feasible, in order to enhance the well-being and improve the quality of life of the people living in the CNMI.
The four major programs in CREES are Aquaculture & Natural Resources, Agriculture Production, Family, Community, and Youth Development, and Nutrition & Health. Funding is provided by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. (NMC)