Green: Utilise climate-smart tech to minimise crop loss
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green is encouraging farmers to utilise more climate-smart technology and practices in order to minimise crop loss from more frequent and extreme weather events.
He said that as a small island developing state, Jamaica is very susceptible to the effects of climate change.
“We have seen it; no one has to convince us in agriculture about the realities of the longer dry periods, and shorter and more intense rainy periods that come with increased flooding,” he noted.
“We have to move from open-field agriculture to protected agriculture, so that we can maximise the land space we have and use up reclaimed lands such as mined-out bauxite lands that are not being used,” Green added.
He was speaking during a tour of the Greenhouse Cluster and Water Harvesting Project, located at Content in Williamsfield, Manchester, last week.
The farmers, who are cultivating vegetable crops in 20 greenhouses on mined-out bauxite lands, are benefiting from support under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI II).
REDI II, which will run over the next five years, aims to improve both the agricultural and tourism sectors by enhancing access to markets and strengthening climate-resilient approaches for targeted beneficiaries.
It is being undertaken through US$42 million in funding from the World Bank, and involves partnership with the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority.
The emphasis is on enhancing linkages among producers, service providers and buyers to improve economies for small agricultural and tourism enterprises, while enhancing market access for these operators.
Organised groups can get up to US$500,000 for an approved project.
At Content, there are plans to add another pond to address irrigation needs.
There are currently three ponds from which water is pumped to more than 20 black drums and fed to the plants in the greenhouses via a drip-irrigation system.
Example for farmers
Green hailed the Content project as an example of “what can be achieved when you come together as a well-organised farming group”.
“Here in Content, you have farmers who take agriculture seriously, appreciate that it is a business, and invest of their time and resources to get things done,” he pointed out.
“This project shows that when you provide the farmers with the land and technology, you see what they can get done,” he added.
Country Director for the World Bank, Lilia Burunciuc, who was also on the tour, noted that “Jamaica has a lot of potential, and one of the great areas of potential is agriculture”.
“You have a well-developed tourism industry, so why not provide the industry with locally grown and very tasty and good-quality produce,” she pointed out.
She lauded the Content farmers greenhouse initiative as a good project, which she hoped would be replicated across the island, and that the farmers would be successful in growing the sector further and supplying not only Jamaica, but also other countries across the region.
Raymond King, who has been cultivating cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers on the Content farm for approximately five years, said he is able to take care of his family.
“We can reap for 11 months of the year, and I prefer this method of farming over open-field farming. The greenhouse is like we home; we keep it just as we keep our house – very clean,” King said.
The touring party also included Managing Director of JSIF Omar Sweeney and General Manager of the JBI, Stevie Barnett.