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KINGSTON — Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, says a disaster management team has been established in the Ministry to focus on enhancing the sector’s capacity to minimise the risks and damage associated with the impact of extreme weather patterns affecting Jamaica.

Speaking on May 24 launch of the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust’s (JCDT) Green Expo 2011 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, Dr. Tufton cited  Jamaica’s vulnerability, as a small island state, to extreme weather conditions, both droughts and floods, occurring annually, and inadequate plans and measures in place to contend with such developments.

“We have to do more in order to prepare ourselves for that eventuality…and then beyond that, after the event,” the Minister said, pointing out  that the country experiences  one or two extreme weather patterns each year, and the impact is normally severe.

Dr. Tufton noted that the Ministry, through its agencies, has impressed on sector stakeholders, particularly farmers, the need for proactivity in ensuring that they undertake actions which complement the Ministry’s efforts to safeguard their interests against the ravages of extreme weather developments.

These, he said, include: reaping crops, where possible, ahead of the passage of a hurricane or tropical storm, or the onset of severe weather which can cause flooding; establishing nurseries to grow seedlings which can be replanted after flood waters have receded; and relocating livestock to safe areas to prevent them from drowning, in the event of flooding.   

Dr. Tufton alluded to measures pursued by the Ministry, prior to the passage of Tropical Storm Nicole last year, which caused extensive flooding, that enabled them to mobilise farmers back into cultivation shortly after the system passed.  

“We were able to get farmers back up and running shortly after, by establishing a number of nurseries to grow the seedlings, while the water on the ground ran off. So,  when the farmers went back into the field, they had plants, or seedlings that were three and four weeks old,” he said.

The green expo, an environmental exposition organised by the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT), will be held from June 10 to 12, which falls within National Environment Awareness Week, which begins on June 5, and observed globally as World Environment Day.

This year’s expo is being held under the  theme: ‘Balancing Development with Environmental Protection’, with the sub theme being: ‘Water Conservation, Alternative Energy Sources, Recycling and Waste Management and Energy Conservation’.

Activities are scheduled to be held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, and the  National Golf Academy, New Kingston.

The expo is being held to raise public awareness of the environmental issues locally, regionally, and globally, as well as the potential solutions geared at minimising, if not reversing, damage sustained; promoting the use and availability of environmentally friendly products and services; and fostering a more environmentally conscious nation through education.

The JCDT is a non-governmental organisation and registered charity that was formally established in 1988. Its mission is to promote environmental conservation and sustainable development, with particular emphasis on the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP), which it manages.

 

By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter