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CTA commits to climate smart agriculture at the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture

For immediate release - Paramaribo, Suriname, 6 October 2014

October 7, 2014

Just two weeks after the launch of the Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture at the UN Climate Summit 2014, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is developing a range of initiatives to tackle the impact of climate change on small-scale producers and promote climate smart agriculture (CSA) as a way of ensuring food security and building resilient agricultural systems. The first of these events, a high level workshop on “Improving climate change resilience for agriculture in the Caribbean”, was launched today at the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture taking place in Paramaribo, Suriname from October 6- 10.

The Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture was formed at the UN Climate Summit 2014, held in New York in September. It groups together governments, international organisations, farmers’ groups, multinational companies and NGOs, and has set itself the target of enabling 500 million farmers to practise climate smart agriculture by 2030. CTA has signed up to the Alliance, with a commitment to promote knowledge sharing on successful CSA practices across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP).

CTA’s first initiative after making the pledge to support CSA was to stage a two-day workshop aimed at giving a voice to some of the world’s most vulnerable small-scale producers in the Caribbean. The event opened at the start of the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA).

The workshop on “Improving climate change resilience for agriculture in the Caribbean” is jointly organised by CTA, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and other partners. It seeks to promote policies that can help Caribbean producers to manage climate change and increase food security in spite of the challenges.  It brings together a wide range of actors from the agriculture sector, including scientists, livestock farmers and fisher folk.

Dominated by small island states and countries with extensive coastlines, the Caribbean is especially susceptible to climate change and its farmers and fisher folk are already feeling the impact.  According to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, studies show that the projected costs to the region due to increased hurricane damage, loss of revenue to the tourism sector and damage to infrastructure, could be USD$10 billion (€7.96 billion) by 2025, and $22 billion (€17.5 billion) by 2050. Such losses would cause an irreversible economic recession in each of the CARICOM member states.

“The small island states are particularly vulnerable. In some cases, extreme weather events can wipe out agriculture in a very short space of time. Grenada lost 70% of its agriculture in 2004 during Hurricane Ivan,” said CTA Director Michael Hailu, who opened the workshop on behalf of the Centre. “For some time now, CTA has been supporting institutions in the region in building resilience to climate change and its effect on agriculture, and this initiative will help to voice farmers’ concerns and explore some of the options for helping them. Partnership is critical, and we hope that we can further engage farmers’ organisations, institutions such as CARDI and other stakeholders, including the private sector. ”

The workshop shares lessons on making Caribbean agriculture more resilient, specifically for fisheries and small ruminant production, both important sectors for the region, and both sectors that are being significantly affected by changing weather patterns. It should promote interest and investment in improved agricultural policies, technologies and practices that will bolster producers’ ability to cope with changing weather patterns and mitigate their own impact on climate change.

Although some farmers, fishers, foresters and livestock keepers are already adapting to climate change using indigenous and scientific knowledge, in many cases adaptation requires investment and policy changes that enable farmers to manage risk, forecast weather and better use natural resources.

“We are seeking to explore what actually works, in which conditions and how these most effective initiatives can be scaled up,” said Oluyede Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator for agricultural policy and rural development at CTA. “We also want to find out what we don’t know, and ask how we can fill that information gap and what kind of partnerships are required.”

An important focus of the workshop involves listening to farmers and fishers who are in the front line in the fight against climate change. CTA is sponsoring 40 delegates to take part in the event, drawn from farmers’ and fishers’ organisations and women’s groups, as well as scientists, legislators and policy shapers.

“We think it is important to give farmers and fishers a platform, so that they can make their voices heard,” said Ajayi. “We want to hear about their direct experiences, how climate change is impacting them and where they need help. We want to explore where there are opportunities to lessen the impact. For example, through ICTs that can disseminate vital information to farmers and fishers.” Farmer innovations and best practices are creating new opportunities, and the workshop will seek to identify these and build on them.

The workshop is part of a wide-ranging programme on climate change launched earlier this year by CTA, focusing on climate smart agriculture  in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Other CTA initiatives on climate change and CSA include:

  • A programme to support African farmers’ organisations, helping them to articulate their policy positions and offering training in climate change, with a special focus on women and youth;
  • A seminar on six key policy issues on climate change and food security, to be held at the Conference of Parties (COP20), in Lima, Peru in December 2014 co-organised with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and CARE International;
  • A publication on successful climate adaptation techniques being used by farmers in Africa co-published with CCAFS;
  • Investigating and documenting CSA farmer innovations in adapting to climate change in the Sahel.

In the future, CTA will be pursuing a three-pronged approach to climate change, targeting the collection of evidence-based knowledge, building capacity of stakeholders, especially small-scale producers, and disseminating useful information, within and across ACP countries and regions.

“The impact of climate change on food and nutrition security in the Caribbean, the Pacific as well in many African countries  is a reality and no longer a hypothetical future scenario, “ said Michael Hailu. “But there is hope, if we plan well, based on solid facts, get stakeholders on board with strong partnerships, and show real commitment. The time to act is now.”

For more information, please contact: Adelle Roopchand Media Relations adelleroopchand@gmail.com

Stéphane Gambier Senior Programme Coordinator for Communication (CTA) gambier@cta.int

And visit: http://cta.int/en