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Rebuilding Caribbean agriculture after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria

September 22, 2017

CTA director Michael Hailu has expressed his sympathies to Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, as well as other countries and territories, at the loss of life and the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria and the resulting impacts on people’s livelihoods.

Whilst agriculture has been declining in the Caribbean over the last 10 years, it still provides a livelihood for many, especially in rural communities, and contributes to food and nutrition security. “Significant investment will be required to rehabilitate these devastated islands,” said Hailu. In Dominica huge swathes of agricultural crops and farm infrastructure have been destroyed. In Haiti, homes and farms have been wiped out in flooded coastal areas and some 18,000 poor families in the worst-hit north have lost food crops, according to preliminary assessments by Haiti's agriculture ministry. As one of the world's poorest nations, Haiti already struggles to feed its population of 10 million, many of whom are subsistence farmers.

The negative impacts of extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes Irma and Maria, have become more frequent and more intense with climate change. “Whilst the immediate priority is to save lives and provide relief assistance to the most affected populations, measures must be taken to make agriculture and food production more resilient to the impacts of climate change to protect livelihoods and ensure food security in the region,” said Hailu.

To help support climate resilient agriculture in the region, CTA is working with regional organisations, such as the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the International Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), to identify and promote climate-smart agricultural technologies and practices in the region.    

“The impact of climate change on food and nutrition security in the Caribbean is a reality and no longer a hypothetical future scenario,” said Olu Ajayi, CTA Senior Programme Coordinator on Climate Change and Agriculture. “But there is hope, if we continue to use relevant data and research to formulate solid plans, get stakeholders on board with strong partnerships, and show real commitment to scale out the promising climate resilient agricultural solutions to farmers.”

© photo left: Arie Kievit/NLRC