Farmers Urged to Embrace Climate Smart Technology

Story Highlights

  • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, is urging local farmers to be more open to using new technology to increase productivity, while protecting the environment.
  • Minister Vaz said he believes that it is through such methods that farmers will be able to produce more in order to boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and address urgent climate-related threats, degraded soils, water scarcity, food insecurity and combat the negative effects of storms.
  • Minister Vaz noted that farmers, particularly small farmers have been utilising the same methods of cultivation for decades, some of which are not sustainable, especially with the advent of climate change.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, is urging local farmers to be more open to using new technology to increase productivity, while protecting the environment.

He cited, for example, the benefits of aquaponics, a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic creatures supplies the nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purifies the water.

Minister Vaz said he believes that it is through such methods that farmers will be able to produce more in order to boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and address urgent climate-related threats, degraded soils, water scarcity, food insecurity and combat the negative effects of storms.

He was speaking at the launch of the Increasing Access to Climate Smart Agriculture (IACA) programme at the Hotel Four Seasons located on Ruthven Road in St. Andrew on September 15.

Minister Vaz noted that farmers, particularly small farmers have been utilising the same methods of cultivation for decades, some of which are not sustainable, especially with the advent of climate change.

“Methods such as slash and burn agriculture for clearing land, excessive use of chemicals and pesticides, farming on hillsides and other hazard-prone areas can lead to soil depletion, land slippage and loss of crop,” he pointed out.

As such, he welcomed the launch of the IACA programme, which aims to train persons in aquaponics techniques.

During the function, representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), UNEP DTU and INMED Partnership for Children signed an agreement to partner with the Ministry for the implementation of the initiative over the next four years.

“This programme is another commendable initiative aimed at improving the lives and livelihoods of our farmers, who are among the groups most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, drought, excessive rainfall, flooding, wind damage and hurricanes,” Minister Vaz said.

“Partnerships such as these are critical to our efforts to combat climate change and to achieve sustainable development,” he noted further.

President and CEO of INMED Partnership for Children, Linda Pfeiffer, noted that the project is aligned with Jamaica’s National Development Plan – Vision 2030.

She noted that the objective is to increase economic opportunities for small-scale farmers while reducing vulnerability to climate change and minimising adverse environmental impacts.

“The focus is on making aquaponics a commercially viable technology for small and medium Jamaican farmers, including women, youth and vulnerable farmers, while improving their market access and resilience to climate change,” Ms. Pfeiffer said.

The IACA programme has three primary objectives: enhancing technical and business capacity for aquaponics production for climate resilience, economic stability, food and water security; building stronger value chain linkages for aquaponics production and market success; and structuring customized financial products in partnership with local and regional financial institutions.

Participants will benefit from training both online and in-person in aquaponics, business planning and loan management; access to financing, working with local and regional financial institutions; and access to markets.

Chief of Operations, IDB, Adriana LaValley, said her organisation is eager to start working with local farmers in keeping with the objectives of IACA.

“We are very excited about this project and its potential to improve the lives of small scale farmers and the agriculture sector in Jamaica. Small and medium scale farmers in Jamaica are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change because they lack the technology, knowledge and financing to implement adaptive measures,” Ms. LaValley pointed out.

She noted that climate change poses a challenge to agricultural development and food security in Latin America and the Caribbean.

She cited the Jamaicans State of the Climate Report 2015, which indicates that small island states like Jamaica are expected to be severely affected by rising sea levels, an increased frequency of storms, high temperatures and greater scarcity of fresh water resources over the next three decades.

“These climate-related events have been identified as major threats to the Jamaican agricultural sector, which represents about seven per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs about 18 per cent of the country’s workforce,” Ms. LaValley said.

“Small and medium scale farmers in Jamaica are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change because they lack the technology, knowledge and financing to implement adaptive measures. Through this project, these challenges will be addressed using aquaponics,” she noted.

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