Jamaica's Farmland
To relieve the repercussions of climate change, the Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/Voca) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are active in Jamaica’s farmland, implementing Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH).

Phase one of Ja REEACH introduced agroforestry: agriculture incorporating the cultivation and conservation of trees. The Farmer Field School provided farmers equipped with the latest climate change-smart agriculture techniques. ACDI/Voca determined the local contributors to climate change, affecting the quality and quantity of produce in Jamaica’s farmland, to further develop an appropriate reduction action plan. Jamaican youth between the ages of 14 to 28 were educated on present and future impacts of climate change, the expectations of adaption and mitigation and the importance of their decisions in conjunction with ACDI/Voca programs.

Because of Ja REEACH’s first phase, 395,035 timber and fruit seedlings were provided to support reforestation, 300 farmers graduated from 17 climate change-smart agriculture schools in agroforestry and horticulture and 100 youth graduated from five climate change agent training groups. There was also an 83 percent increase in climate change awareness and 147,542 trees were planted in a forest reserve.

Phase two of Ja REEACH organized agroforestry systems that conserve the ecosystem and natural resources. Farmers created a riparian buffer strip to control and regulate the river bank to prevent overflowing and reduce the likelihood of flooding in the Ballard River of Jamaica’s Clarendon parish. Its forestry department provided more timber seedlings to expand the riparian buffer strip.

Clarendon’s James Hill Farming Group has group members that are trained by Home Economics Specialists from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority to learn how to adapt to and utilize Jamaica’s farmland. Using guava from recently matured guava trees, members are producing jams, jellies and purées. In Eastern Jamaica, the Golden Valley Apiculture Group has multiplied their initial 13 hives and tree seedlings into shipments of honey to a community of about 100 households in St. Thomas.

On July 14, two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were signed. The first between USAID and ACDI/Voca’s Ja REEACH with Red Stripe/Project Grow to overcome the challenges of commercially grown cassava, thus advancing food security in local space and economy, meeting the demands of Jamaican marketplaces. Red Stripe’s Project Grow is working on replacing imported high maltose corn syrup with locally grown cassava in their beer products. This change brings a consistent and secure market to farmers and expanding Red Stripe’s 1,000-acre farm. Red Stripe aims to substitute 40 percent of high-maltose corn syrup with cassava by 2020.

The second MOU creates a relationship between ACDI/Voca’s Ja REEACH with Delaware State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Tuskegee University. These universities are providing archives of data, studied and collected over decades, training students and participating stakeholders. Both MOUs create networks harnessing the resources and knowledge of all parties to enhance Jamaica’s farmland as a collective response to climate change.

Tiffany Santos

Photo: Flickr