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GIS – Representatives from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) are encouraging farmers within the Caribbean region to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices that can help lessen the impacts of climate change.
The IICA representatives also lauded Saint Lucia’s “advanced approach” to climate change mitigation efforts.
Ena Harvey, IICA Management Coordinator for the Caribbean, said the entire region has experienced the impact of climate change with devastating consequences on food production and food security.
“Climate change has resulted in flooding, landslides, the loss of soil nutrients, and it has a dramatic effect on our agriculture which has a ripple effect on food security, and the livelihoods of small farmers,” Ms. Harvey said.
To lessen the impact, “conservation and the proper utilization of resources” is key, explained Steve Maximay, IICA Consultant on Climate-smart agriculture.
“Climate-smart agriculture employs an ecological approach. Everyone has to survive in this changing environment, so we need to know how to adapt,” he said, adding that in many cases it means reverting to tried and tested farming practices.
“When we talk about climate-smart agriculture, we are talking about general survival and development, and not just agriculture,” Mr. Maximay said. “Climate-smart agriculture entails good agricultural practices applied to climate change impacts. So all the things we recommend is stuff that our forefathers knew about, like how to conserve water, and how to maintain soil fertility.”
The results of a recent farming assessment revealed that one main area of concern is water management.
“Rainfall has become more unpredictable and is associated with more intense events,” Mr. Maximay said. “If you look at historic rainfall figures they may appear to be similar, but recently what you find is that we are getting that rainfall in only three or four events. In addition, we are seeing longer dry spells tantamount to droughts. So we have to conserve water and find comprehensive and appropriate ways to irrigate, harvest, conserve, store and distribute that water.”
The IICA works directly with farmers seeking assistance and information on farming practices. The institute also works in collaboration with a wide range of regional and international agencies.