Over 300 farmers from nine communities in Clarendon have increased their awareness of climate change and its effects on agriculture. Many are now diversifying their crop production to ensure greater responsiveness to climate impacts and disaster risk.
This is due to the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change while Reducing Disaster Risk in Peckham, Clarendon and Surrounding Communities” Project which is funded by the Caribbean Development Bank through the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF).
“The project aims to build the farmers resilience to the various climate impacts that affect their livelihoods – so that they can transform and adapt using new agricultural practices,” said the Project’s Manager, Faradaine Forbes-Edwards.).
The project, which is being implemented by the Environmental Health Foundation (EHF) is working with the farmers to increase their climate and disaster resilience. The farmers are from Peckham, Tweedside, Sanguinetti, Grantham, Johns Hall, Morgan’s Forest, Silent Hill, Top Alston and Frankfield, communities targeted under the EHF Project.
“We want to ensure that their levels of losses are reduced so when we get long droughts or hurricanes they can cope better than they are coping now,” said Forbes-Edwards.
She added that part of that preparation was getting the farmers to use new techniques [climate smart agricultural practices] and advanced technologies to enhance their resilience to climate change impacts. In a bid to do this, the project has had 49 training sessions addressing various agricultural best practices such as post-harvest and marketing strategies, small-scale poultry management, land husbandry, and farm business management.
“The EHF project introduced the Up-lifter (sweet potato) to the target communities. “Before the project, they usually planted the Quarter million variety. The Uplifter sweet potato spreads a lot and protects the soil – within 10 weeks of planting it covers all the soil. The tubers are nice and hard and it is the export friendly variety, smooth on the outside and yellow inside,” explained Ruth Simpson, Agricultural Specialist with the Project.
The Up-lifter sweet potato does not take a lot of water to grow and is regarded as a more climate-resilient crop. The farmers, however, have had to contend with pests such as the sweet potato weevil.