KINGSTON, April 22 (JIS): A total of 297 farmers from five parishes have been empowered with weather pattern information through a US$100,000 grant from the Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) Project.
This was under the training component of the project, involving the Meteorological Service (Met Office), the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). Through the information provided to the farmers, drawn from St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas and St. Mary, they are now better able to interpret and understand weather predictions and make informed decisions regarding planting and harvesting, so as to boost productivity.
They have been equipped to deal with climate factors such as maximum and minimum temperatures, low pressure and troughs, drought and flash flooding effects. They are also able to formulate responses to weather and climate forecasts and messages from the Met Office, and adjust their operations to lessen the impact of adverse climate conditions.
Speaking at an Agrometeorology farmers’ forum held on Tuesday (April 21), at the Farmers’ Training Centre in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine, Manager with Ja REEACH Project, Dianne Dormer, said the training should result in improved agricultural practices to enhance crop yield.
“We expect that we should see practical changes on the ground, such as water harvesting and storage…using things like barrier crops to reduce some of the insects that are driven when temperature increases, and a change in the planting cycle, and the type of crops that will be planted,” Miss Dormer noted.
Treasurer of the Ebony Park Farmers’ Association in Clarendon, Michael Hutchinson, who was among farmers reporting on how they are applying the knowledge in their farming activities, said the training was extremely helpful, “especially to farmers, who depend on rainfall.”
“When you can understand and know the weather pattern, you can know exactly what to plant, so it helps you in your planting,” he said.
Vice President of the James Hill Production and Marketing Organization (PMO), also in Clarendon, Gloria Moore, reported that “the information provided has changed the way we plant, and the way we reap. It is very good for us; we have benefitted greatly.”
Ja REEACH, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is aimed at protecting rural lives, livelihoods and ecosystems in targeted communities affected by climate change, through interventions that drive adaptation and build resilience.
The project works with farmers and communities to support actions and demonstrations that combat challenges linked to the changing climate in Jamaica.