FORMER managing director of the Water Resources Authority Basil Fernandez is recommending that instead of waiting for funding from rich donors to implement climate change mitigation works, Jamaican authorities should use locally developed applications.
According to Fernandez, while the island has the knowledge base in institutions of higher learning and several such solutions, they have not been put to the best use. Furthermore, he said the information and knowledge about the practical use of these applications have remained out of the grasp of farmers at the grass roots who are the major drivers of food production.
“Yes, we have developed certain applications, there are certain things we can do locally to mitigate climate change impacts; I don't think we are doing those. I think that these are some of the things we need to get into to ensure that we have more secure water, so that we can have more secure food. That's an issue I think we need to look at,” Fernandez said.
In this respect, he acknowledged that the work of the Climate Studies Group at The University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Climate Change Unit in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation would be pivotal.
“I think basically we need to look at what are the practical applications that we can do locally instead of waiting for the money to come from those rich people which may never come,” Fernandez told this week's Jamaica Observer's Monday Exchange at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue headquarters in St Andrew.
He was part of a panel exploring the issue of 'Practical solutions for Jamaica's food security agenda', a Jamaica National Foundation initiative in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank.
Chairman of Jamaica National Foundation Parris Lyew-Ayee Sr, in addressing the issue, called on university groups to do more to make their solutions relatable to the present time.
“We need to bring the climate change esoteric aspect down to ground level so that our farmers and operators can understand and appreciate what it means and how to use it. We need to get our operators to be able to grasp the fundamentals of climate change issues and to be able to use the stuff that The UWI is putting out,” Lyew-Ayee Sr pointed out.
“Put it into applicable, practical means; right now it's too far above their heads for them to be able to appreciate and use it and that is why we say we need to be able to use the education system, our Rural Agricultural Development Authority for our farmers to be able to see how we implement and make use of the information they are putting out,” he added.
“Right now, it is a bit too esoteric for a lot of people to be able to put it into practise., It's good academic work, but how do you translate it into production is what we need to get to,” he told editors and reporters.
The two were responding to questions from the Jamaica Observer regarding how solutions such those out of the Climate Studies Group at The UWI could be used to help the island address its food security and climate change concerns.