With specific focus on addressing the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector, the Ministry of Agriculture is providing technical support in irrigation technology to farmers who are being assisted by the Caribbean Aqua Terrestrials (CATS) Project.
The CATS Project is a regional initiative aimed at building resilience within local communities, by responding to and reducing the impacts of climate change.
In Grenada, particular interest is being placed on proper irrigation practices, as attention is given to the prolonged dry period that is affecting crop production of farmers.
Acting Chief Land Use Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Trevor Thompson, explained that some of the technical support being extended by the ministry will concentrate on water availability and efficient use as a response to climate change.
“The focus on some of the farms will be Rainwater Harvesting to support irrigation systems; others will be on using pumps from the streams to supply water to farms. Because it is a climate related project, we prefer to go with the most efficient Climate Smart Technology with regards to irrigation; preferably drip irrigation, and secondly, we’ll try to use solar powered pump, if it’s possible,” Thompson said.
Two of the effects of climate change are reduced rainfall and higher day time temperature, which haves a direct impact on water availability, especially to farmers.
Thompson explained the importance of the irrigation programme in this particular period.
“The irrigation programme is mainly to provide the equipment, which facilitate the flow of water from the river or the pond, or that is collected from the roof and stored in tanks for use in the field and by the crops. The programme is basically to ensure that the farmers have access to water especially in the dry season. Irrigation is a must right now in Small Island Developing States, if you’re going to really produce agricultural produce for the market,” he said.
The North East Farmers Organisation (NEFO) is the targeted group under the programme and the National Programme Officer for CATS, Leanna Romain said a total of 7 farmers will receive assistance in that regard.
She said the site assessments done in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture are necessary for the complete analysis of the needs of the farmers.
“We’ve done baseline studies and questionnaires to just get a brief overview of who the farmers are, where they are located, what kind of crops they plant, information on income etc. So we did that last week, and hopefully that data will be used along with the site assessment to actually capture baseline assessment. The hope or the expectation is that after this site assessment, we could get an idea as to what would be the best suitable design for the farms and also a costing,” Romain said.
She spoke of increased income and building of resilience for the farmers under the project.
“The idea is that communities within these areas could one; increase their income through whatever assistance we provide, that’s why getting information before the intervention is important. So, we are able to capture what is the current income of the farmers, and the idea is to capture the data to show that their income would increase after having gotten assistance with irrigation, if they manage their water supply properly. The other thing that we hope to achieve is build resilience of the communities, and that simply means whatever intervention we support, it should enable the communities to bounce back after a climate related event,” she said.
The implementing agencies of this project are the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARP HA), and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
The CATS project is expected to conclude in 2021. It is being implemented in other Caribbean islands such as St Vincent & Grenadines, St Lucia, Dominica, St Kitts & Nevis, Jamaica and Belize.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Land, Forestry, Fisheries & Environment launched the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solution (CATS) Programme in November of 2013.
Ministry of Agriculture