Boost for agriculture after 27 specialists graduateMonday, June 30, 2014
By NICHOLAS MARTIN Observer writer
Jamaica's agricultural sector and the nation as a whole will soon be able to sigh with relief, as a result of the most recent advancement in the field of agriculture.
The Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change Project (Ja REEACH), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), took under its wings 27 agricultural specialists, who successfully completed a 10-day Agrometeorology programme, culminating with a graduation exercise at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel recently.
The cohort, consisting of 21 men and six women, is the first batch of many to come in the future to graduate from the programme. Mission Director of USAID Jamaica, Denise Herbol reminded the graduates that, "the skills you have earned are an important element to Jamaica's future growth."
The move to train agrometeorological specialists is part of the national level programme to deliver climate services and products that meet the planning and decision-making needs of the Jamaican agricultural community.
In Jamaica, climate change impacts are manifested in challenges such as drought, flooding, and increased incidence of stronger hurricanes. These impacts are exacerbated by environmental degradation issues such as soil erosion, watershed degradation and deforestation. The implementation of this programme should have favourable implications in tackling these issues in the future, on the grounds that the knowledge garnered by these specialists is applied accordingly.
The Ja REEACH project is a two-year initiative focus on protecting rural lives, livelihoods and ecosystems in targeted Jamaican communities that are affected by climate change.
Chief of the USAID arm in Jamaica, Denise Herbol mentioned that, "we all know that agricultural production in Jamaica is dependent on, and influenced by, the weather and climatic conditions. The benefits of understanding weather and climate events will aid in further establishing techniques and controls to foster a healthier, robust agricultural industry, which should in turn result in more sustainable and financially stable livelihoods."
The Ja REEACH project's support for this agrometeorology training is part of the mandate of the Agricultural Climate Services Working Group co-chaired by the Meteorological Services of Jamaica and the Rural Authority Development Agency (RADA), with international support from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), At Columbia University.
"This programme is a real committment of donors, so I would like to thank the USAID for their continued support," said senior director of Meteorological Services Jamaica, Jeffery Spooner.
The graduates were trained in agrometeorological principles and applications, a ground-breaking development for the farmers of Jamaica.
Speaking on the implications of this development for the agricultural sector, Karayan Holt, a graduate of the programme said: "This programme is definitely the vehicle to move the sector forward. Proper forecasting needs to be done so farmers know how to adapt."
Agrometeorolgy is the study and use of weather and climate information to solve weather sensitive problems; to enhance and expand agricultural crops; and to lead to increased crop production.
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