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As climate change continues to impact the globe, effort is being made locally to allow Jamaica to play its part in combating this phenomenon.
To this end, 50 community-based adaptation projects are to be implemented, some of which are geared towards the agriculture sector and are being made possible under the small grants programme of the Global Developmental Facility.
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank session, Clifford Mahlung, Project Manager at the Meteorological Service of Jamaica said, “We will be able to get the farmers more knowledgeable about the topic of climate change and assist in providing some of the solutions”.
He explained that among the expectations resulting from climate change are prolonged drought conditions particularly between the months of June and August.Jamaica, he noted, may have to consider new varieties of crops as meteorologists are projecting that climate change will have a severe impact on the agriculture sector.
Mr. Mahlung, who is Jamaica’s chief negotiator on climate change and a recent appointee to the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, was addressing the impact of climate change on Jamaica’s agriculture and giving an update on initiatives on climate change, following the international meeting in Bali in December.
Pointing out that the current varieties of crops may not provide high yields as expected due to changes in the climate such as higher temperatures, Mr. Mahlung noted that new crops would have to be Jamaica’s answer to the changes.
Turning to the prolonged drought conditions that are expected, he said that as a result of the protracted dryness, farmers will be required to utilize more water in the production of crops. This means that farmers will be faced with an additional cost. “There will be a greater need for irrigated water to grow crops, and irrigated water is more costly than water that is acquired by rainfall,” he explained.To combat the cost factor, the Project Manager noted that a thorough assessment must be carried out in order to provide additional water supply to the areas, which will be experiencing the most dryness. “It means therefore that in the dry areas we will have to look at how we can provide water supply in terms of canals that can supply water to the farmers,” he said.
He informed that farmers of St. Elizabeth frequently experienced drought conditions and are still able to produce high yields. Therefore, a project to link climate change to biodiversity is being scrutinized and will document some of the farming practices being employed by these farmers. The information will be presented to other farmers locally, regionally, and internationally.
Since the start of the 1990s, climate change and its impact has become an international concern. It is caused by global warming which is as a result of a high concentration of the green house gases Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide which is emitted by fossil fuel.