Smart solutions for climate change
Addressing climate change challenges - and bolstering small-scale farmers’ ability to grow crops and raise livestock in spite of increasingly difficult conditions – will be critical to developing the agri-food sector of Caribbean and Pacific island states. A workshop on Building Partnerships and Alliances to Scale up Climate-Smart and Adaptation Solutions in the Caribbean has identified some of the most effective strategies available to island farmers and explored pathways for ensuring take-up among ACP producers.
Organised as part of the Caribbean and Pacific Agri-Food Forum, now in its second day in Bridgetown, Barbados, the workshop focused on pinpointing smart solutions to help farmers adapt to a pattern of extreme and erratic weather events that is now widely seen as inevitable.
The Caribbean region is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, especially hurricanes and drought, with often devastating impacts on agricultural production. Between 1990 and 2008, economic, social, infrastructural and environmental damage caused by natural disasters in the greater Caribbean area was estimated at US$136 billion. Estimates by the Inter-American Development Bank suggest that losses could be as high as an annual $22 billion by 2050, the equivalent of 10 per cent of the region's economy.
Oluyede Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator for ARD Policy at CTA, said the two-day workshop would seek to highlight technologies that really work for island farmers and fishers. "In the workshop, we are aiming to build partnerships and alliances with different institutions and a range of experts to scale up climate smart and adaptation solutions in the Caribbean," he said.
Sharing experiences across ACP regions
Strong potential for cross-learning on climate change between Caribbean and Pacific regions is also being targeted by CTA and partners.
"The two regions have a lot to learn from each other," said Samson Vilvil Fare, who coordinates the Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme (Intra-ACP APP) at CTA. "For example, in the Pacific, there has been a great deal of research into drought tolerant crops such as taro, and in May, a group from the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) travelled to the Pacific to learn the techniques and adapt them to dasheen in the Caribbean region."
In a parallel session on The Agriculture Nutrition Nexus and the Way Forward, a workshop presented a scan of the nutrition situation in three Caribbean states - Haiti, St Lucia and Suriname - as well as four in the Pacific: Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands. The aim of each survey is to investigate the extent to which imports of low-quality processed food and poor agricultural practices is affecting the health of local communities. Both Caribbean and Pacific island states have significantly high rates of non communicable diseases (NCD), such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
"In the Pacific, we have plenty of local foodstuffs that are rich in nutrients, yet many people tend to eat unhealthy imported food," said Vilvil Fare. "Education is vitally important here. We now have some of the highest NCD rates in the world."
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