HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

WICSCBS is one of the two oldest (Java being the other one) sugar cane breeding institutions in the world, with a continuous breeding programme since the rediscovery of seedlings in  Barbados in 1888.


1888: rediscovery of cane seedlings (Bovell,  
 
J.R. and Harrison, J.B.); breeding between noble sugar cane began in  Barbados. During that time, the same nobles were cultivated worldwide but under different names, e.g. Black Cheribon and Creole. Nobles were severely affected by diseases and did not ratoon well.

1900: Breeding led to the development of improved noble sugar cane. Varieties, BH10(12) and BA11569 revolutionised the sugar industries in the  Caribbean.


1920’s: Hybrids between Saccharum officinarum andSspontaneum were discovered and also bred in Java. One such hybrid, POJ2728, was the first to be grown successfully in the  Caribbean and indeed worldwide. It was used as a parent in hybridization efforts here at the Cane Breeding Station.


1932: The British West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station (CBS) was established under the direction of the Barbados Department of Agriculture.

1934: A hybrid sugar cane variety, B34104 [BH10(12) x a hybrid from  India] was created and it quickly became the cane of the  Caribbean.


1937: The process of nobilisation (backcross of a hybrid to a noble variety) began at the Cane Breeding Station. This led to the development of B37161, which became a very important variety in the Caribbean, South and  Central America. All variety selections for the Caribbean islands were performed here in  Barbados.

1962: The West Indies Sugar Association, an umbrella cooperative organisation of English speaking  Caribbean sugar industries later renamed the Sugar Association of the Caribbean Inc. (SAC), took over the responsibility for running the Station and the Station became known as the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station. The Station recognized that variety selection needed to be performed in each member country, and the fuzz obtained from crosses was distributed to individual countries for evaluation.

1962- Present: The Station has provided training to member countries on best practices in sugar cane cultivation (includes a workshop that is held every two years and annual reports) and has embarked on several research projects whose results have benefited our industries tremendously. 


ORGANISATION

Funding for the WICSCBS is derived from contributions from SAC member countries viz.  Guyana,  Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados,  St. Kitts,  Jamaica and  Belize. The Station is guided by a Technical Committee comprising the Directors of Research of each of the SAC member industries. WICSCBS also receives limited funding from subscriptions paid by its Associate Members viz.  Dominican Republic,  Panama,  Costa Rica,  Sudan,  Senegal and a few other countries in Africa and  Asia. The Station maintains a strong relationship with the Centre de Cooperation International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Dévelopement (CIRAD), France, in the areas of varietal exchange, quarantine and molecular research involving sugar cane.


RESOURCES

WICSCBS has well developed physical facilities to carry out sugar cane breeding to support the industries in the member countries. The staff comprises three Senior Scientists - the Director, Plant Breeder and Geneticist; and a junior scientist responsible for Germplasm and Breeding.

The Scientific staff is supported by Technical, Administrative and Field staff. The Station has benefited from the consultation of several leading scientists in the fields of sugarcane breeding and genetics.

WICSCBS goal is to breed superior varieties of sugarcane to cater to the needs of the various member countries. The Station has produced several superior varieties of sugarcane that drive the sugar industries of the member countries. 

The station has one of the largest sugar cane germplasm collections in the world (over 3000 unique clones) that are maintained on 16 hectares of land. A large crossing house, tissue culture and sugarcane quality testing labs and other facilities are available. Furthermore, the Station has a Spectra Cane Analyzer (www.spectracane.com) that was calibrated to analyse various components of sugar cane and is currently used to analyse Brix in cane and juice; percentage fibre, water; polarity, polarity in juice and cane, and purity. So far in 2009, the Spectra Cane Analyzer has been used to analyze over 5000 sugar cane samples. The variety selection and testing facilities of the members in  Guyana,  Trinidad and Tobago,  Barbados,  St. Kitts,  Dominican Republic,  Jamaica,  Belize and  Sudan complement the Station’s facilities in  Barbados. In addition, the Station benefits from continued cooperation with the University of the West Indies in  Barbados and CIRAD in Guadeloupe and  Montpellier,  France. 

The Station has a student’s quarters that can comfortably house one person for short to medium term collaborative research on any aspect of sugar cane.