The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) is taking steps to help farmers battle the effects of climate change on their livelihoods.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, gave the assurance on Wednesday, while speaking with the media on the sidelines of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture’s (IICA) 2019 Accountability Seminar, which was held at his ministry at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.
Acknowledging the concerns raised by farmers, particularly those at Riverland, St. Philip, and the Spring Hall Land Lease Project in St. Lucy, about the lack of water for their operations, Minister Weir said their cries were not falling on deaf ears.
He revealed that he and Permanent Secretary, Terry Bascombe, discussed the issue with representatives of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, while attending the 41st Session of the FAO’s Conference, in Rome, last month.
The minister said they were seeking to obtain technical support to conduct a study at Riverland, St. Philip, and acquire funding for an irrigation project there, as a means of bringing relief to farmers.
Minister Weir, however, stressed that his ministry’s efforts were not solely focused on drought mitigation. Pointing to the possibility of heavy flooding and other severe weather events, he indicated that measures were already in place to deal with these eventualities under the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive.
“We’ve recognized that we have to change our approach to agriculture, in that we need to now look at less water intensive units for farming to continue…. So, that would happen under the arrangement we have with farmers to have freight farmers supported by government on a lease to own arrangement…. Equally, they would address issues that we could face with climate change and climatic events as well because those units can withstand, I’m told, up to a Category Four Hurricane,” he stated.
The minister further reiterated government’s commitment to developing the agricultural sector into one that is sustainable and viable, adding that they were keen on engaging and assisting farmers as they played an “integral role” in the process.