Dr Michael Taylor, lecturer in the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences at The University of the West Indies, Mona, says that the Caribbean must develop solutions for the increasingly unpredictable weather conditions so that agriculture can develop under the current challenges of climate change.
“We need to recognise that we’re witnessing the emergence of a new and harsher climate era. The models of agriculture in the Caribbean are premised on familiarity, and in the absence of familiarity, agriculture becomes an unreliable partner in development,” said Taylor. He was addressing the opening ceremony of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services’ 10th annual meeting in Negril on Tuesday.
The week-long meeting is being held to discuss the role of rural agricultural services in addressing the issues of climate change and disaster risk management.
“In 2002, Jamaica had flood rains which cost us 0.7 per cent of our gross domestic product, and if we skip 2003, then 2004 made up for it with two hurricanes (Charley and Ivan),” Taylor added. “If we don’t recognise that the climate is not reliable anymore, we’ll always spend time trying to recover from the previous years. Agriculture cannot develop to its full potential in the new climate era because of the challenge of the unreliable climate.”
Taylor recommended that any national and regional plans for agriculture include clear strategies to help the sector withstand the randomness of climate change.
“The climate is demanding new plans in the agriculture sector. When you look at the sector plans at the country or regional level, do you see plans that engender resilience? If you do not see them, then we need new plans,” said Taylor.
In his address at the meeting, Peter Thompson, chief executive officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, said that Jamaica and the Caribbean must withstand climate change to protect global food security.
“We have to learn how to cope and build resilience to preserve food security for our country and region and other parts of the world. Climate change in Jamaica and the world is real,” said Thompson.
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