UF/IFAS scientists address food security in the Caribbean

Jehangir Bhadha, an associate professor of soil, water and ecosystem sciences, distributes soil strips for testing soil health.

At their core, land-grant institutions like the University of Florida focus on how science, research and global partnerships can address food-security challenges, develop innovative solutions and efficiently reach those in need.

To promote food security, a team of University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) faculty recently conducted a three-day training program in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to address the challenges of excess and lack of nutrients used for agricultural production.

The training was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service; U.S. Agency for International Development/Eastern and Southern Caribbean Region; the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour and the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund.

“Nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, have long been used in agricultural practices in the form of fertilizers to enhance crop yields,” said Jehangir ‘Jango” Bhadha, an associate professor of soil, water, and ecosystem sciences at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center (UF/IFAS EREC). “However, excess use of fertilizers can lead to eutrophication, a process that can degrade downstream and surrounding ecosystems.”

The process threatens biodiversity. Meanwhile, the agriculture industry faces the challenge of depleted soils in the Caribbean, resulting in insufficient fertilizer and threatening their food supply.

Kelly Morgan, also a professor of soil, water, and ecosystem sciences at the UF main campus in Gainesville, led the training program with fellow UF/IFAS faculty Bhadha, Lincoln Zotarelli, a horticulture science professor, and Sarah Strauss, an associate professor of soil microbiology, to enhance the technical knowledge, skills and practices of local growers, agricultural stakeholders and practitioners.

A team of UF/IFAS faculty traveled to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to address the challenges of excess and lack of nutrients used for agricultural production.

The program included two days of interactive presentations and one day of field work, covering topics such as soil microbiology, soil health, organic matter, water and fertilizer management. The courses empowered growers, farm managers and landowners to chooU.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Servicese the most suitable technology and strategies for plant health and nutrition to improve soil fertility and overall agricultural productivity.

“We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to collaborate with local stakeholders in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to address the critical issue of nutrient management in agriculture,” said Bhadha. “By providing training and sharing expertise, we hope to contribute to global food security and promote a sustainable environment in this region.”

The UF/IFAS training program received positive feedback from participants, who expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn more about soil fertility and efficient fertilizer use.

“The collaboration between international organizations and local authorities highlights the importance of global partnerships in tackling nutrient management challenges for a secure food supply and a sound environment,” said Bhadha.



By Lourdes Mederos, rodriguezl@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

ifas.ufl.edu  |  @UF_IFAS

Feeding a hungry world takes effort. Nearly everything we do comes back to food: from growing it and getting it to consumers, to conserving natural resources and supporting agricultural efforts. Explore all the reasons why at ifas.ufl.edu/food or follow #FoodIsOurMiddleName.



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Posted: February 6, 2024

Category: Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Farm Management, Horticulture, Pests & Disease, SFYL Hot Topic, Turf, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Research, Water
Tags: Caribbean, Crop Yields, Fisheries, Food Security, Forestry, Global Food Security, Global Partnerships, Industry And Labour, Institute Of Food And Agricultural Sciences, Jehangir Bhadha, Kelly Morgan, Lincoln Zotarelli, News, Nutrients, Rural Transformation, Saint Vincent And The Grenadines Ministry Of Agriculture, Sarah Strauss, Soil, Soil And Water Sciences, Soil Health, Soil Microbiology, Soil Water And Ecosystem Sciences, Taiwan International Cooperation And Development Fund, U.S. Agency For International Development/Eastern And Southern Caribbean Region, U.S. Department Of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, UF IFAS Everglades Research And Education Center, UF/IFAS, Water, Wildlife Ecology And Conservation

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