The key responsibilities of the Agricultural Services Division are as follows:
- To produce high quality planting material for sale to the farming community and the general public thereby contributing to improved food security.
- To expand and conserve germplasm collections of key strategic crops of agricultural importance in live genebanks and /or cold storage so as to ensure sustainability of the Agriculture Sector, for the benefit of both the present and future generations.
There are five (5) stations under the purview of the Agricultural Services Division:
- La Reunion Plant Propagation Station
- Marper Farm, Manzanilla
- St Augustine Nurseries, Curepe
- El Carmen Seed Unit, Centeno
- Chaguaramas Agricultural Development Programme
Subdivision of Agricultural Service Division
This Division is divided into two (2) sub-divisions:
- The subdivision of Horticulture and
- The sub-division of Crop Production
(i) The sub-division of Horticulture comprises three stations: the La Reunion Plant Propagation Station, the St. Augustine Nurseries and Marper Farm.
At the La Reunion Plant Propagation Station, major emphasis is placed on the production of Cocoa nursery plants while a small quantity of Breadfruit and Coffee are also produced.
The St. Augustine Nurseries is responsible for the production of mainly Citrus nursery plants. Mango, Avocado, other minor Fruits, Ornamentals and Herbs and Spices are produced in smaller quantities.
Various crop types are maintained and conserved at all stations including Marper Farm where particular emphasis is placed on the conservation of cocoa nursery germplasm.
(ii) The sub-division of Crop Production comprises one station, the El Carmen Seed Unit, which is responsible for producing locally adapted seed material e.g. Ochro, Bodi and Corn and root crop planting material e.g. Sweet Potato, Dasheen and Cassava.
La Reunion Plant Propagating Station
The Agricultural Services Division maintains several germplasm collections at various sites viz the La Reunion Plant Propagation Station, Chaguaramas Agricultural Development Project (CADP), El Carmen, St. Augustine Nurseries, and Marper Farm. The plant genetic resources located at La Reunion include tree crops such as cocoa, avocado, sapodilla, citrus and mango along with many minor and exotic fruits. By conservation of these resources, the station has an important role in the wider strategy of the sector policy for achieving national food security.
Since its inception in 1953, the La Reunion Plant Propagation Station has been charged with the responsibility of supplying high quality planting material to farmers and the wider community. Today, the core function of this station is to propagate mainly cocoa and a small quantity of breadfruit and coffee planting material for use by the farming community and to conserve the germplasm on the station.
Major activities at La Reunion Plant Propagation Station:
- Production of high quality planting material - cocoa, coffee and breadfruit plants.
- Conservation of key germplasm of agricultural importance inclusive of cocoa, coffee and bananas.
St. Augustine Nurseries
Major activities at: St. Augustine Nurseries
- Production of high quality planting material - Citrus, mango, avocado, minor fruits and limited ornamentals.
- Conservation of key germplasm of fruit types and other useful plants- citrus, mango, avocado, other tropical fruit types, herbs and spices and ornamental shade trees and shrubs.
Marper Farm was acquired by Government in 1928 for the purpose of cocoa research programmes in the Ministry of Agriculture. During the period 1935-1949, a geneticist called F.J. Pound established seventeen (17) collections of disease-free bud wood material at Marper. These are referred to as the “P” or “POUND” clones. These clones, among others, served as parents of what is known as the most successful cocoa breeding programme in the world, resulting in the Trinidad Select Hybrids or TSH varieties. In 1945 Marper Farm was expanded for use as a propagating station producing plants for farmers and householders. Production included coffee, citrus, mango, avocado and other fruit types.
The Marper Farm operated as an important propagation station during the period 1950-1994 and was a major supplier of budded and grafted cocoa, avocado, citrus and other fruits for the farming public of the north east and south east Trinidad. In 1994 the farm was downsized through the removal of its primary function as a propagating station and the staff was reduced by 60%. The remaining workers were utilized mainly in the upkeep and maintenance of field tree crop germplasm and compound.
The Marper Farm was reactivated in September 2011 with its major objectives being to produce and distribute high quality citrus, mango, avocado and mixed fruits planting material for the farming community and to produce a range of fruit commodities to significantly impact on the food security needs of Trinidad and Tobago. The refurbished Marper Farm was formally commissioned by Senator the Honourable Devant Maharaj, Minister of Food Production on the 13th November, 2013. Since then, the plant propagation activities have been considerably increased so as to meet the production/demand targets of the farming population.
Major activities of Marper Farm:
i. Production of high quality planting material - Citrus,mango, avocado, minor fruits.
ii. Conservation of strategic crop germplasm of agricultural importance - cocoa germplasm of national and
international interest, other tropical orchard fruit crop plants
Chaguaramas Agricultural Development Programme / El Carmen Seed Unit
The Chaguaramas Agricultural Development Project (CADP). It was established in 1971 by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in collaboration with the Federal Republic of West Germany on approximately 200 ha of land in Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas. The main programme at CADP concentrated on commercial production of true seed, particularly of vegetables, bodi, hot pepper, sorrel, pumpkin, pigeon pea, ochro, melongene and corn. CADP has the responsibility of catering to an ever increasing demand for these seeds from the farming public. This facility reduces the nation’s dependency on imported seed.
By cabinet Minute No. 467 of March 6, 2008 it was agreed that the activities of CADP would be relocated to the El Carmen Field Station, Centeno to accommodate the establishment of the commercial farm at Tucker Valley. The Chaguaramas Seed Unit was relocated to the El Carmen Station in June 2009. Following the closure of the Mega Farm in 2011, permission was granted for the reestablishment of field operations for seed production on approximately 40.5 ha of land at Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas.
- Production of high quality seed material - corn, pigeon pea, bodi, sorrel, pumpkin, ochro, melongene, hot pepper.
- Production of root crop planting material - cassava, yam, sweet potato
- Production of banana planting material - Plantain, soucrier, silk
- Preservation of key vegetable seeds under cold storage.
- Conservation of root crop germplasm.
Agricultural Services Division Main Office
St. Augustine Nurseries Compound, Farm Road, Curepe
Tel: 645-6552 / 0534
La Reunion Plant Propagation Station (LRPPS)
Caroni North Bank Road, Centeno
Tel: 646-2651 / 646-8200 Fax. 646-2948
St Isidore Road, Plum Mitan, Manzanilla
Tel: 691-2846 / Fax. 691-2847
St. Augustine Nurseries (SAN)
Farm Road, Curepe
Tel: 662.2692/645-6552/Fax 662-7515
El Carmen Seed Unit
Caroni South Bank Road, Centeno
Tel: 669-8402 / 669-8508 / Fax. 669-8403
Chaguaramas Agricultural Development Programme
Macqueripe Road, Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas