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Gov’t Invests Billions in Climate Smart Agriculture

Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier Agriculture Minister Derrick Kellier
The Government of Jamaica has invested billions of dollars on programmes to promote climate smart agricultural practices, while enhancing productivity in the sector and environmental sustainability.

This was disclosed by Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, during a climate smart agriculture symposium at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on July 16.

“In collaboration with partners under the Government of Jamaica’s (GoJ) Adaptation programme, the Ministry has been facilitating investments valued at US$2.9 million in alternative water harvesting and management methods such as the establishment of rainwater harvesting and gravity drip irrigation systems,” he said.

Mr. Kellier informed that there has been training in efficient water use and climate change adaptation techniques to improve soil moisture retention and disaster risk management.

Noting other programmes being undertaken to bolster the resilience of the sector, he said the Ministry has formulated and implemented the National Irrigation Development Plan, under which over the last eight years, “we have constructed seven new irrigation systems at a cost of over $5 billion.”

He further cited the agro-parks programme and the creation of fodder banks under the dairy sector revitalisation programme, as part of long-term agricultural adaptation strategies.

Minister Kellier said that while the programmes are beginning to have the desired impact in terms of enhancing the growth momentum in the sector as well as the decline in food imports, the back-to-back droughts of 2014 and 2015 are demanding even greater levels of response and of investment.

The Minister lauded the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for its support to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities, through the Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate change (Ja REEACH) project.

He also thanked the USAID for its support to the GoJ Adaptation Fund Programme, in executing the farmers’ field school and other related activities.

“I call on all parties present and absent, now and in the future to work together so that we may leverage each other’s resources without duplication of efforts to strategically plan and manage our response to the real and present impacts of climate change,” he said.

The climate smart agriculture symposium brought together farmers, scientists, technical experts and extension providers, as well as decision-makers, to share information on research, best management practices and innovations to inform sector level decision-making.

The Ja REEACH project is a three-year initiative funded by the USAID. Through a range of interventions, Ja REEACH works with Government, civil society and farmers to increase awareness and application of practical actions that help Jamaicans to become resilient to the impacts of climate change.

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