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Climate-smart agri an imperative for CARICOM – Dr. Ramsammy

CARDI’s Dr. Arlington Chesney (L) and Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy

The case for CARICOM to adopt climate-smart agriculture to deal with the challenges posed by climate change is being hammered home by leading agriculture officials in the region.

The latest occasion was Sunday evening’s launch of the Technical Workshops at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) in Georgetown, which also saw the launch of a booklet addressing the climate issue.

Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Director Dr. Arlington Chesney said making the agricultural and food production system more resilient to climate change was essential for food and nutrition security.

“The publication presents a detailed analysis of a new climate-smart agriculture with information provided on how the global climate change system works, what factors are changing the global climate and the indications and impacts of the changing climate,” he said.

The concept of climate-smart agriculture was coined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2009 and is defined as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience, reduces or removes Greenhouse Gases and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals.”

The booklet also shares information on how climate change is threatening the agriculture and food production systems worldwide, the options available to the sector and how regional and international organisations were working to build a new climate smart agriculture.

The publication was a collaborative effort between CARDI and the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).

Meanwhile, host minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy stated that placing climate-smart agriculture at the centre of people-driven development was an imperative for the region.

“Climate-smart agriculture must be our vehicle for sustained economic and social prosperity and for ensuring that CARICOM countries reach the goal of being high middle income countries in our lifetime.”

The minister also called for the CWA to discuss “passionately” the involvement of women, youth, ICT and new technologies in agriculture. On that note he decried what he said was the developed nations’ failure to facilitate more sharing of technologies as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals.

Dr. Ramsammy also touted the relevance of the Jagdeo Initiative on Agriculture in these times but added that he was saddened by “lukewarm” approach to its implementation.

According to the minister, the booklet was timely and fitted in with the Initiative and he hoped that a recommitment to the strategy would emerge from CWA.

Another call he made was for a declaration on the effects of climate change on the region.

“Those who continue to drag their feet on this climate change issue are putting all of our lives and the lives of children and future generations at risk. So I hope we at CWA will come out with a declaration loud and clear that climate change is real, it’s affecting our countries.” 

The CWA, in its 12th year, ends on Friday at the Guyana International Conference Centre.