The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Fisheries and Cooperatives is putting structures in place to address the challenges farmers face with poor soil fertility and limited access to testing facilities that can improve production, introduce innovation, and begin transformation of the industry.
Improving soil health, soil care and promoting sustainable land management practices will be the focus of the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (CSIDS) Multicountry Soil Management Initiative for Integrated Landscape Restoration and Sustainable Food Systems (Soil Care project).
The CSIDS SOIL CARE Phase 1 Project was launched on Tuesday, 26 July with a special inception workshop attended by sector stakeholders.
This project is geared to facilitate the use of the necessary tools for adopting policies, measures, and best practices that will support the review of legal and institutional frameworks that will advance the achievement of Grenada’s Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets. It will also help to restore degraded and idle land.
Minister of State with responsibility for Agriculture and Lands, Sen. Hon. Adrian Thomas said, that “applying Information Communication Technology into agricultural production processes can improve productivity and increase production.”
He further stated that the “project will strengthen agriculture and help improve food production, resulting in a reduced food import bill and enhanced food security”. “Healthy soil,” he added, “supports a landscape resilient to the impact of drought, flood, or fires. These soils will significantly regulate the Earth’s climate and carbon storage, an essential element in agricultural production.”
Alva Browne, the Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Agriculture and Lands, spoke to the importance of facilitating regional cooperation in soil data management, staff training, and equipping soil labs. He said, identifying new technologies, supporting crop production, and establishing demonstration farms will help transfer knowledge to Ministry staff and farmers and help “build a climate resilient Grenada.”
Executive Director for the PISLM, Calvin James, who has been working with the project since 2008, spoke of the regional collaboration to make soil data available to stakeholders. Indicated that, “the first phase of soil care is to bring our soil data up to date and create electronic maps that are easily accessible to stakeholders; it will be used for housing and building roads, but it has to be easily accessed by all. We also want to strengthen our soil labs so that they can keep these maps updated,” he stated.
The project is a joint venture between the Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (PISLM), The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and The University of the West Indies. It will help Grenada to achieve its obligations under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNCCD).