1057 THE PRODUCTION OF CULINARY HERBS IN THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: CONSTRAINTS AND SOLUTIONS

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  • 1 University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, #2 John Brewens Bay, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 00802-9990

In the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), herbs and spices are in great demand, mainly for culinary purposes. These crops include thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, chives, fennel, rosemary and marjoram. Based on estimated total marketable yield of 25 growers in 1993, 10,264 kg of fresh culinary herbs were produced in USVI. During the same period, 21,207 kg of various herbs were imported to the USVI. These data clearly show that local demand for herbs exceeds domestic production. Constraints which limit increased production in USVI include small farm size, limited water resources, absence of mechanization and limited information on crop management practices. Many herb growers use traditional farming practices and for the most part avoid modern approaches to cultivation. Appropriate cultural and management practices (e.g. drip irrigation, mulching, fertilizer, etc.) could potentially boost production and increase overall efficiency despite the reality of small farm acreages. This paper will describe the current status of herb production in the USVI, constraints to production and proposed solutions to improve its economic prospect.

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