I was asked by the Institute for International Development, Inc. to look into this possibility. Many conversations later, I find that at least one venture failed in Costa Rica and that at least two are successful in Haiti. At elevations over 3,000 feet in Haiti, strawberries seem to be a definite possibility. It is difficult to find people who will give them the year-round attention they need, especially since the fruiting season is relatively short. Also, disease-free plants must be imported from northern countries every other year. Theft is another hindrance. But excellent prices for good fruit are obtained near a city. I have compiled what I have learned into a technical note which I will send upon request. I would like to know of your own experiences with strawberries or about projects that you know about. If you would like to give strawberries a try, I have found a source with good prices that can ship any time of year if arrangements are made early enough.
A new development may eliminate the need to import disease-free plants. The Pan American Seed Company is developing a strawberry seed. Trials in the Chicago area have been very promising. They hope to introduce the new seed commercially within a few years. They have bred the “day-neutral” trait into the seed in hopes that it will produce well in the tropics. I told them we have collaborators working in tropical rural development in many countries who might be interested in trying this seed. They have agreed to give us small amounts of free seed this spring through the Burpee Seed Company. We will pass these on to those of you who live at an altitude of at least 3,000 feet who will agree to give them a serious try. We will require you to summarize your results. This information will be shared with the producer and through E.D. Notes. The breeders may be able to use this information to make the seed more suitable to the tropics.