Timothy Lewis, crop lecturer at the Agriculture and Natural Resources Institute (ANRI) in Stann Creek, is trying to make agriculture friendlier to young people by promoting soilless potting mix for planting vegetables.
“Using a soilless potting mix rather than outdoor soil is preferable, because potting mixes don’t readily compact, don’t contain weed seeds and don’t have disease spores and other possible problems,” said Marie Iannotti in the article What is a Soilless Potting Mix? Posted About.com
Lewis informed Amandala that ongoing research at ANRI has resulted in the germination and growth of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli seedlings in a locally formulated (put together) plant growth medium that is ‘soilless’ (does not contain sand, silt or clay). The samples in the accompanying photo are cabbage seedlings.
He commented that, “This achievement gives an indication of the vast potential Belize has to productively utilize its abundant vegetative plant debris and biomass. The researchers at ANRI are hoping to produce a replicated, proven potting mix (medium) that can be used in a pilot project in a Dangriga Primary School in September 2012.”
Lewis said that a REAP (Rural Education and Agriculture Program) or limited agricultural program can gradually be more easily implemented and sustained.
“Even the preschools will eventually be able to benefit from this endeavor,” he told us.
Senator Godwin Hulse, who is also a businessman and farmer, told us that the proposal is very workable. He strongly encourages Belizeans to not just plant for sustaining their families or to meet the local demand, but to plant with an export market in mind.
Lewis said that if the soilless planting catches on, it could also be a progressive way to help clean up Belize.
This is because plant debris that is often strewn about carelessly could be put to more structured and productive use to feed into the agricultural industry.
“Presently in Dangriga, the plant waste material generated by the town in the form of yard trimings, lawn litter as well as roadside vegetative debris is collected along with the regular municipal waste, transported to the dumpsite about seven miles away and all burnt,” Lewis said. “This project aims to utilize the plant waste of the community to produce packaged mulch and shredded composting material.”
Lewis is hoping that collaboration with the Dangriga Town Council, the University of Belize, and the Environment Research Institute would yield far-reaching results.