NMC-CREES awarded $1.79M to study pineapple cultivation

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(NMC) — The Northern Marianas College’s Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services was recently awarded $1.79 million to research commercial pineapple cultivation in the CNMI.

The project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will concentrate on tissue culture multiplication and the development of sustainable, climate-resilient, commercial cultivation of pineapple farming systems in the region.

“We chose pineapple as a target food crop for production because of its nutritional benefits, as well as its potential for commercial production,” said Dr. Virenda M. Verma, project director for the pineapple study.

Verma, who has been a leading horticultural biotechnologist involved in agricultural research in the Micronesian region for over 20 years, said that the research project was developed based on input from agriculture professionals and stakeholders of the CNMI.

Tissue culture multiplication of pineapple plants. Photo by Dr. Virendra M. Verma/NMC-CREES

“We specifically designed this project to meet the local needs of the community,” Verma said.

According to Verma, the average crop yield of a properly managed pineapple farm can be about 50-60 tons per hectare.

“The commercial cultivation of pineapple in the CNMI would promote food and nutritional security,” Verma said.

NMC-CREES Interim Dean Patty Coleman said that with the grant, the College will now be able to build a new plant biotechnology laboratory, or PBL, to be used to initiate tissue culture operations.

“We are excited to be able to have the resources to further study this great economic opportunity for the Commonwealth,” Coleman said.

The PBL will house specialized rooms for equipment sterilization, aseptic inoculation and culture maintenance, and green and screen houses. The new facility can be also used to house future biotechnology projects.


A pineapple that grew on a tissue culture multiplied plant. Photo by Dr. Virendra M. Verma/CREES

According to Coleman, the pineapple project will be done to ensure the year-round availability of high-quality planting material of pineapple in CNMI.

The main objectives are to design and establish an appropriate plant biotechnology facility, produce elite and disease-free seedlings of locally preferred pineapple cultivars through tissue culture multiplication, and provide appropriate recommendations to local farmers for sustainable, commercial, climate-resilient pineapple production.

“This is an amazing feat for our small island community,” said Frankie Eliptico, NMC Interim President. “The additional research lab will open new opportunities for our island residents, as well as help ensure that pineapple production will contribute to our local economy.”

Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services provides research and technical advice 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.

For more information on NMC-CREES, visit crees.marianas.edu


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