Sustainable agriculture in the Caribbean
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CTA. 1989. Sustainable agriculture in the Caribbean. Spore 23. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45127
Several Caribbean countries are facing up to the challenge of increasing food production while protecting their environment. As well as encouraging farmers to conserve their soil and water, governments are also tackling the factors that contribute...
Several Caribbean countries are facing up to the challenge of increasing food production while protecting their environment. As well as encouraging farmers to conserve their soil and water, governments are also tackling the factors that contribute to environmental damage such as land ownership, mono-culture and pollution. Jamaica, Dominica and Grenada have environmental problems typical of Caribbean islands, in that the most intensive use of land is carried out by the smaller farmers on the most fragile soils - often on the steepest slopes. Recognizing that implementing soil conservation measures requires a lot of commitment and that this is difficult for farmers to have if they do not have ownership of the land, the governments of Grenada and Dominica have started a programme of land reform. Several large estates have been broken up into smaller units and been given to families for culhvation of a mixture of food and cash crops including tree crops. The provision of a credit scheme, roads and a marketing network has motivated farmers to farm for the future in terms of soil conservahon and also to diversify and increase production. Much of the increased produchon is exported with benefit to the national economy. To conserve soil, farmers are encouraged to use both physical and biological techniques. In Jamaica, a tall, fibrous grass is cut and laid on the soil as a mulch. In Grenada, with FAO help, a steeply-sloping valley has become a show case for more permanent soil conservation proving that, with reafforestahon and bench and eyebrow terracing, intensive food produchon and protecting the environment can go together. Trees are planted for canopy cover, to stablize the soil and to produce a crop. In the Caribbean there is now a clearer understanding of how mix-management of one resource leads to the damage of another with implications for food production. Agrochemicals used in the rush to boost crop yields, can pollute the water courses and the soil. Recognizing this, the Dominican government's farmer-training programme ensures that farmers are competent in the preparation, application and container disposal of pesticides and fertilizers. Dominicans believe that while agro-chemicals can increase food production it must not be to the detriment of the environment. As a result of such measures, several Caribbean countries are getting closer to their aims of growing enough food for the home market, having a surplus for export and yet achieving a new stability in the environment for sustainable production.