INTENSIVE PLANTATION AND SCATTERED PLANTATION – THE CAP PROJECT ON CANTALOUPES With a view to promote intensive plantation in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Technical Mission of The Republic of China (Taiwan) is cooperating with the Community Achiever Project (CAP) for the “Cantaloupe Program”. Organized by CAP, a group of 50 primary students from Tucker Clarke and Irishtown participate in the Cantaloupe Project to learn intensive plantation skills and experience professional farmer’s lifestyle. As a cooperation project between the Taiwan Mission and a non-governmental civil society, the Cantaloupe Project is a pioneer program. Addressing the students at the opening ceremony of the Cantaloupe Program, Ambassador Wu of the Taiwan Embassy stressed that farming is a full-time job and requires professional management. With the comparative advantages of fertile land and abundant rainfall in this Federation, Ambassador Wu assured the attendees that the Taiwan Embassy shall spare no effort to encourage and assist young farmers in devoting their careers to a profitable future in agriculture through scholarship and loan programs. Cantaloupe, one of the species of cucumis melo L. family, is congruous with the sunny weather and lose sandy earth in St. Kitts, as pointed out by Mr. Huesh, Chief of the mission. Chief Huesh explained the advantage of intensive plantation and letting cantaloupe climb vertically on sticks instead of scattering cantaloupe seedlings over the ground. The mission’s technician, Mr. Huang Chien Cheng, taught students to plow land and to embed irrigation dipping pipes and fertilizer before covering the whole thing with plastic sheeting. Then, in the span of about 65 to 70 days, CAP Director Ms. Victoria Bacum, her partner Mr. Sydney Berkeley and volunteer Ms. Alice Plichtaa continued to work with students to care for the cantaloupes until they grew bore fruit. Cap staff and students are enjoying the steady, visible growth of their cantaloupes. As part of the project, students have to demonstrate their labor, such as strapping each knot of newly grown stems each day and extirpating unnecessary branches and buds so as to concentrate nutrients for the fruits. Mr. Berkeley described how thrilled he was when guiding students to carefully tie stems to sticks while being cautious not to break young and fragile stems. Proper irrigation, fertilization, daily branch and bud care, and disease prevention techniques are key factors for successful cantaloupe plantation. Farmers in this Federation have gotten used to scattered plantation and rain-fed agriculture, which is uneconomical and inefficient. Intensive plantation results, in terms of fruit-bearing, have proven to exceed scattered plantation at the rate of 20 to 1. The Taiwan Mission and CAP student project on cantaloupe aims to educate a new generation of farmers with skills and management techniques worthy to prove that intensive farming is far more profitable than scattered farming. We also want to alert St. Kitts and Nevis policy-makers of the need to further assist farmers in improving their competitiveness in this critical stage of global food crisis.
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