Tue | Dec 11, 2018

Bodles gets first of six regional seedbanks

Published:Saturday | April 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Dr Barton Clarke (left), executive director of the CARDI, makes a point, Gerard Alleng (right), climate change senior specialist with the IDB, about the priority issues to be addressed under the memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries for refurbishing of the seed-storage facility at Bodles Research Station in St Catherine. Dr Gregory Robin (centre), CARDI’s country representative to Jamaica, also took part in the signing ceremony at the ministry’s St Lucia, New Kingston, office on Wednesday.

The first of six seed banks to identify, preserve, and store climate-resilient crop varieties to be established across the region is set for completion at the Bodles Research Station in St Catherine by July this year.

"The plans have been drawn in collaboration with the Ministry (of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries), the schedule of activities is in place; the procurement plans have been completed, and there has been an additional budget to accommodate some of the electrical work and the installation work. So I would imagine that in the next two to three months, the facility should be completed," Dr Gregory Robin, the Caribbean Agricultural and Research Development Institute's (CARDI) country representative told Wednesday's signing ceremony of the memorandum of understanding.

The Inter-American Develop-ment Bank (IDB) has provided US$10.39 million in grant funding under the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience to build out and enhance similar as well as complementary facilities in Haiti, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Grenada to jump-start the goal of regional climate-change resilience.

Executive director of CARDI Dr Barton Clarke used the example of Dominica, where the entire agriculture sector was decimated last year after Category 5 Hurricane Maria slammed into the island, as a wake-up call for the entire region.

"It is important for us to put in place systems and facilities and to build out capacity, which will allow us to respond quickly in the event that there is any such disaster with respect to destruction of food supply," he told the audience at the ministry's New Kingston office.

Gerard Alleng, climate change senior specialist with the IDB, spoke to the urgency of the situation.

"We know that there will be significant climate-related shocks. So we see the need for responding to the slow onset of climate-related effects such as sea-level rise and ambient temperature increases, hence, the investment in seed banks. Those types of activities are going to be critical," he advised.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com