Integrate science and technology into farming and everyday practices, PM appeals

BY SHANAE STEWART
Staff reporter
stewarts@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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AGAINST increasing warnings from scientists that Earth's climate has changed drastically, Prime Minister Andrew Holness is appealing to farmers and Jamaicans in general to integrate science and technology into everyday practices in order to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Holness made the petition at the Denbigh Agriculture, Industrial and Food Show that culminated on August 6 at the Denbigh showground in Clarendon.

“I don't think I need to convince anyone that climate change is a real phenomenon that is affecting us in real ways,” he said.

“I have had an opportunity to review our rainfall data and there has been a change in rainfall patterns. Most of our rain would fall in the north-eastern ends of the island but in the last year there is more rainfall in the more western ends of the island, but not as much as it would rain in the north-eastern side.

“The rain pattern has shifted and that is causing all kinds of problems because areas that do not have the utility water supplies, meaning that they are not supplied by the National Water Commission (NWC), could rely on the routine of rainfall but now they can't and so we are having a drought of severe magnitude,” Holness said.

He then made it clear that he had no intention to request patience but instead wanted to appeal to farmers to innovate and integrate science and technology into farming practices and for the citizens at large to play their part in reducing the effects of global warming.

“It is important that the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) becomes an advocate of drip irrigation technology, and the use of mulching to develop more creative ways of capturing rainwater for the preservation of our environment because some of our own long-standing agricultural practices have contributed to the very problem that we now face,” the PM stated, noting that one of those practices is the slash and burn technique that is frequently used.

“We need to plant more trees. We need to rehabilitate our watershed areas and we are now doing that with several projects. But, if every Jamaican were to make it their point of duty to look in their backyard and say, 'You know what? This little spot could take a tree and give us some shade,' it would be helpful.

“Just that one action could help to increase the number of trees by let's say a million trees per year. That number of trees could sequester from the atmosphere a large volume of carbon dioxide, which is contributing to the warming of the climate,” he said, adding that he is aware that this will not solve the problem overnight but we must think about the future.

“There are things we can do to deal with this problem, and it won't solve the problem tomorrow but it will ensure that in a decade or two we can see some long-term results. And, some might say that in a decade or two they will not be here but we are not only living for ourselves, but for our children,” he affirmed.

Although there are clearly areas that we need to work on as a country, there are areas in which we are excelling and this has not gone unnoticed by the PM.

“I have formed the view that this year's show was better than last year's show and so that means there is progress.

“And I think you would agree with me that the livestock section has done very well. I was particularly impressed with the livestock section and it is always a pleasure to meet the young farmers,” he said.

He then shared with the audience that the president of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, and Premier of the Cayman Islands Alden McLaughlin, who were in attendance, were also impressed and were in their elements at the agriculture show as they too are farmers.

Recently the Government of Jamaica and the Republic of Kenya signed a framework agreement and three memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the Republic of Kenya as both governments committed to strengthen relations in trade, tourism, culture, and a number of other areas.

President Kenyatta was in Jamaica for a three-day State visit from the August 5 to 7, as a special guest for Jamaica's 57th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.

Kenyatta and his delegation left the island yesterday morning.


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