The initiative is among a series of training courses that these entities will be providing to public and non-governmental institutions over the next twenty-four months.
St. George’s, Grenada, January 6, 2016 (IICA). Seventeen public technicians (including technicians from the areas of agronomy, land use, engineering, laboratory, and extension services) as well as representatives from the 4-H movements of Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts and Nevis convened in Saint George’s, Grenada, to develop technical capacities to facilitate the development of a promotional strategy that will enable the national authorities of those countries to achieve their soil and land restoration objectives.
Within the framework of the Flagship Project entitled Resilience and Comprehensive Management of Environmental Risks for Agricultural Production, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) organized the four-day workshop in collaboration with the Department of Food Production – Soil Science, University of the West Indies (UWI).
The effects of climate change on agricultural production and natural resources in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are evidenced by recent extreme environmental events with significant negative impacts on the economies.
“Without adaptation, climate change and climate variability are projected to further exacerbate soil erosion, land degradation and landslides and be further compounded by unsustainable agricultural practices practiced by family farmers. This contributes to soil erosion, sedimentation and silting of rivers, loss of soil sources, vegetation and biodiversity losses, and a reduction in rural income, thus aggravating the climatic impacts,” stated IICA’s Regional Specialist on Resilience of Agriculture.
The training course promoted the use of sustainable soil management (SSM) approaches and highlighted the importance of the chemical, biological and physical functions of the soil, particularly in relation to organic matter management for facilitating water availability. The course also provided improved vegetation cover and conservation techniques that contribute to improving agricultural productivity, strengthening resilience and enhancing rural livelihoods.
According to Nazeer Ahmad, Professor Emeritus of Soil Science, UWI: “there should be greater awareness of the function and importance of the soil in preserving and improving our greatest resource.”
The objective of the course was to identify the main components for developing a national strategy for sustainable soil management and the use of practical soil assessments and indicators to monitor and evaluate soil health at the farm, community and national levels. Participants succeeded in this task, as proven by the creation of a Promotion Strategy for Sustainable Soil Management.
Participants remarked that there was a need for stronger regional networking, coordination and continued institutional collaboration between UWI and IICA in order to facilitate a decrease in land degradation in the OECS.