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Outsmarting Climate Change: The Caribbean Challenge

(by Nazima Raghubir)

Caribbean Week of Agriculture should not be just a meeting of minds but there has been a call for concrete policies to tackle and promote agriculture within the region. Dr Francis Asiedu, Technical Services Manager of the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute steered the discussion on the path about development policy to tackle various issues when he led the presentation in a workshop on “Improving Climate change resilience in the small ruminants and fisheries industries in the Caribbean”.

“We can talk about all the change we need till the cows come home, but if there are no positive policy environment or  policy frame work to deal with these changes are not really going to happen,” Dr Asiedu said.

Dr Michael Hailu, Director for the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation Director reminded participants that one of the keys areas identified in the UN Summit was agriculture which spawned the an initiative aimed that promoting climate smart agriculture.

“That’s a major initiative that brought together many government, private sector organization and international institutions, to commit to support climate smart agriculture by 2015 we would have 500 million farmers accessing climate smart agriculture,” Dr Hailu recalled.

The key element of climate smart agriculture is ensuring there is a continued focus on food and nutrition security with the aim of building resilience for climate change.

“It is very critical to understand what is climate smart agriculture means, what are the actual practices on the ground and what are working, so there is a huge knowledge gap about what is really happening, when it comes to climate change and what the farmers know,” he said

Cedric Lazarus –Regional Development Officer of the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Regional Office said after participating in four CWAs he has noticed that some initiatives are being implemented in the small ruminants industry. He pointed out after  visiting the island of St Vincent he found goat cheese was being produced by persons who attended CWA in Guyana in 2013.

“we don’t usually head people talk about climate smart livestock production… but we are here, CTA, IICA, FAO and Cardi, to put that sorta thought on the agenda, climate smart livestock production, in the context of livestock sustainable development, mainly because some of the countries in the region have indicated that small ruminant is going to be one of the major impetus to livestock development in the Caribbean, If we don’t do it smartly, there would be none.”

CWA 2014 is being held in Suriname under the theme, “Transforming Caribbean Agriculture through Family Farming”.

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