Message from Honorable Yolande Bain-Horsford Minister for Agriculture and Lands.
Fellow Grenadians, as Minister for Agriculture and Lands, I am delighted to be associated with this important celebration of World Day to Combat Desertification.
The Executive Secretary, on the occasion of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification said, and I quote: “There are only three things you need to know about the World Day to Combat Desertification: it isn’t just about sand, it isn’t an isolated issue that will quietly disappear, and it isn’t someone else’s problem. It is about restoring and protecting the fragile layer of land which only covers a third of the earth, but which can either alleviate or accelerate the double-edged crisis facing our biodiversity and our climate. That makes it the problem of anyone who wants to eat, drink or breathe; to make their home in a town, or in the country or even to live in security; to use technology, medicine or infrastructure; to have equal access to work, learning or relaxation. To live.” End of quote.
As we are aware, soils, land and agriculture play a very important role in the economies of our islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The agricultural sector is a major contributor to national development through the provision of employment, household income, food and government revenues. As we boast of the importance of this sector to our economies, unfortunately we must face the harsh reality of the challenges facing the sector, which include land degradation, lack of sustainable farming practices, climatic variations and droughts.
It is important to note that Grenada has been spearheading the fight against desertification at local, regional and global levels. Some of the actions we have taken include Cabinet’s approval of Grenada’s Voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets 2030, which encompass the following:
- Increase the fertility and productivity of 580 hectares of cropland by 2030.
- Transform 800 hectares of abandoned cropland into agro forestry by 2030.
- Implement soil conservation measures on 120 hectares of land by 2030.
- Rehabilitation of 383 hectares of degraded land at Bellevue South in Carriacou by 2030.
- Rehabilitation of100 hectares of degraded forests in Grenada and Carriacou by 2030.
- Increase forest carbon stocks by 10% by 2030.
Grenada has also completed and submitted its 2018 National Report on the state of land degradation nationally linking it to gender and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 goals.
Presently, we are pursuing an LDN Indicator Setting Project to determine the indicators that will be used to measure LDN against the SDGs. It will also enable Grenada to establish sound reporting and monitoring systems to report against the UNCCD Strategy and for implementation to enhance data management for improved monitoring of impacts of Sustainable Land Management.
Grenada has also completed with the support of the EU and OECS Secretariat, a Draft National Land Policy that focuses on the management of all lands for present and future generations. We have also with the support of the UNCCD Secretariat complete the National Drought Management Plan. This Management Plan (GDMP) establishes effective operating procedures for managing water demand for public supply and agriculture in the state of Grenada and evaluating supply options before, during and after a drought related water shortage.
Government is also in the process of finalising the 2030 National Sustainable Development Plan. It includes actions to address the sustainable development of Grenada’s agricultural lands.
Grenada is also implementing a number of other projects that will complement the work being done. These include:
- Conducting a National Soils Surveys and a Soils Fertility Mapping Projects.
- Implementation of a National Land Bank Project to make lands available for agriculture with an emphasis on youths and Sustainable Land Management Practices.
- Establishment of the Mt St Catherine National Park and protected areas.
- Review of the National Protected Areas System Plan
- Reforestation of dry coastal forest with local species.
Regionally we have supported the Caricom established Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management as it seeks to address the negative impacts of Climate Change on soils and Land.
Globally Grenada has been a leader in the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. These include:
- Helping to draft new mandates of the convention to provide support for countries to develop their drought plans
- Requesting Support to provide training to local staff to fight desertification with the use of soft engineering actions such as use of local grasses, plants, terracing, and composting to address soil fertility.
Grenada like all the other 196 countries and the European Union that have signed on to the Convention, join in this 25-year anniversary celebrations, because despite the challenges, progress is being made.
It is obvious that more countries are recognising that if you protect the soils, you protect the land, and if you protect the land it will result in increased crop yields, increased farm earnings, less migration, and more social cohesion, making for peaceful nations.
The Government of Grenada and Ministry of Agriculture and Lands on the World Day to Combat Desertification in 2019, invite all Grenadians to take some time to reflect on all the benefits that past and present generations have enjoyed and commit ourselves to doing more to preserve our lands for future generations.
Let us look forward with great enthusiasm to the next 25 years, endeavouring to achieve land degradation neutrality, because the next generation deserves to be aware of our efforts as underscored in this year’s theme that we “Grow the Future Together”.
I thank you.