Efforts are now under way to ensure farmers have access to critical climate forecasting information, which will aid in the cultivation and production of their crops.
It is coming in the form of a Caribbean Agro-Meteorological Initiative (CAMI), a project which seeks to increase and sustain agricultural productivity on farms in the Caribbean through improved and coordinated dissemination and application of meteorological information.
The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the agency which oversees CAMI, today, held the first of two Farmers’ Fora at the Barbados Yacht Club, Bay Street, St. Michael, to garner feedback from stakeholders on the project.
The response from farmers and agriculturalists will assist in the provision of better products from the regional meteorological services for use by the farming community.
Chief Agricultural Officer (Ag) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Ralph Farnum, gave his full support to the programme, noting that farmers could no longer afford to plant their crops and hope for the best.
He stressed that they needed access to pertinent and accurate weather and climate data so as to make informed decisions in the management of their farms.
"We depend on rainfall to grow our crops…we need to know from year to year the type of weather patterns we are going to have, whether it is going to be a wet year, dry or even intermediate. Such knowledge is important to farmers and those who work in the agricultural sector. It is also critical to areas such as fisheries, particularly [how climate change] affects the movement of species of fish," Mr. Farnum said.
He added: "This project will provide the necessary information to help us to grow our crops well, better manage them, know when and which crops to plant, as well as how climate change will affect the incursion of pests…They [the farmers] need to know the type of conditions they will have, so they can plan and prepare to deal with those situations and how they will impact their crops and livestock."
The Caribbean Agro-Meteorological Initiative was launched in February 2010 and will run for three years.