Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Farmers urged to engage in climate-change mitigation

Published:Saturday | March 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Courtney Cole (left) speaks with (from second left) President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) Diane Edwards and Chief Executive Officer of Agro-Investment Corporation Sylburn Thomas at the Agricultural Information Forum, which was hosted by JAMPRO at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday.

Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Courtney Cole, is calling on farmers and agricultural investors to engage in more climate-change mitigation plans in an effort to protect their investments.

Cole said that due to climate change, Jamaica has been experiencing inconsistent weather patterns that have affected crops across the island in the last 12 months, thereby impacting the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).

Addressing a Jamaica Promo-tions Corporation (JAMPRO) Agricultural Information Forum earlier this week at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew, Cole pointed out that the sector, in 2016, contributed 7.3 per cent to the GDP, 1.3 per cent more than the year before.

"We remained flat in the periods that have passed recently because of the devastating rains, but we have a lot to be hopeful about," he said.

"What we have is a situation where we're operating on something looking like a pendulum or a continuum, where on one side you have extreme drought conditions and then on the other we have extreme precipitation and flooding. It seems like that has become the new norm."

Cole said that the seasonal patterns that could have been predicted years ago have now changed due to climate change, and, as such, farmers and investors need to invest more in mitigation plans to prepare for the unexpected.

"We have to find ways of mitigating the drought situation by harvesting more of that water that floods us out. We must have mechanisms in place that will capture that water so that we have it when the drought situation comes around again," he suggested.

Cole said that the Government, through the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, has been making efforts to prevent the devastating impact that climate change can bring to the economy.

"The ministry, through RADA (the Rural Agricultural Development Authority) and other affiliated entities, has been engaging our farmers and training them," he noted.