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Abstract

The advisability of promoting forage seed production as a crop for small farmers was examined in the Caribbean context. If used in rotation with crops, a minimum 3-year pasture break is capable of reducing disease and weed problems, improving soil structure and chemical fertility, and the foliage left after seed harvesting provides a valuable source of either animal feed or mulch for sale or use in other farm enterprises. The sale of seed would provide a useful cash income. Problems include the loss of flexibility imposed by a perennial crop, the weed potential of pasture species, competition for available labour and the present lack of an established local market for the seed. Government policies to stimulate the use of pastures would increase the demand for seed, while a potential export market already exists in South America. It is concluded that if central cleaning and quality control facilities are established by a regional organization such as CARDI, pasture seed production could be an attractive alternative for careful farmers.

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