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Climate Change & Agriculture in Jamaica by City Tech Blogger Kristin Binda

When thinking about climate change I always think about the United States because that’s where I live, but what about the small islands like my parent’s home island of Jamaica? That mainly relies on agriculture, fishing and tourism.

According to the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), agriculture including fisheries and agriculture represents 5% of Jamaica’s GDP. It also supports 20% of the island’s population. The highest valued crops such as banana, sugar cane, and coffee are most at risk and more vulnerable to hurricanes. Jamaica is likely to suffer major effects from climate change due to increased the intensity and frequency of hurricanes hitting the small island.

The southern lowland of the island of Jamaica is where all the livestock are dominated, in the Blue Mountain is where the coffee farming is done and in the western part of the island is where sugarcane production is. The coffee would be affected by the loss of berries, defoliation of and damage to coffee and shade trees. As for the sugarcane the flooding as well as a drought will affect the growth of the plant. Where the citrus is grown, contain regions that are susceptible to high winds, soil erosion and flower and fruit dropping.

Jamaica has come up different with strategies to combat climate change. For instance, farmers in Southern St. Elizabeth found ways to manage droughts by planting quick crops (e.g. scallion), planting more drought-resistant crops (e.g. scallion, cassava), scaling down production during the dry season, edging (e.g. perimeter planting with guinea grass), careful timing of water application, sacrificing proportions of crops, sharing water, drip irrigation, trucked water, and use of black tanks to store water.

There are a few programs and projects related to climate change that the island has invested in, such as in 2011, the EU committed to granting resources for the implementation of a Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project in Jamaica. It would focus on increasing resilience and reducing risks associated with natural hazards in vulnerable areas. The Ministry is exploring on-farm water management systems to deal with drought and further priorities include: development of small-scale catchments, drip irrigation systems, rehabilitation of water storage structures and development of tube wells under national irrigation development plans.

I could go on for days about the different programs and plans that Jamaica has going on, it was very interesting to read. I got all my information from the link below.  Climate Change is real!

*Climate Change and Agriculture in Jamaica – Agricultural Sector Support Analysis (fao.org)


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