FAO, Canada launch CA$10M regional project to enhance farmers’ resilience to climate change

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Farmers and entrepreneurs across eight Caribbean countries stand to benefit from the new CA$10 million Regional Gender-Responsive Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Systems in the Caribbean project which officially launched on June 3 at United Nations House in Barbados. Funded by the Government of Canada, the four-year project (2024-2028) will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. A collaborative effort involving Canada, FAO, and local government and civil society partners, the project will enhance Caribbean farmers’ resilience to climate change and contribute to economic growth in the region.

First announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the Canada-CARICOM Summit in October 2023, the regional project will contribute to improving the livelihoods of women and youth in climate-resilient agriculture value chains in the Caribbean. Through the Canada-funded project, FAO will work closely with local Ministries of Agriculture, farmer organizations, gender bureaus, research institutions, and community-based agro-processing centers to transform and upgrade these value chains ensuring that they are market-driven using relevant data and facilitate public-private sector partnerships The project will also increase the use of climate-smart technologies, innovations, and practices by agricultural stakeholders to make more data-driven decisions and advocate for the expansion of more inclusive, gender-responsive climate-resilient value chains.

Speaking at the media launch, High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, H.E. Lilian Chatterjee shared that “Canada recognizes the disproportionate impact of food and input price inflation, supply chain disruptions, and climate change in the Caribbean, which has exacerbated pre- existing food insecurity. Women are powerful agents of change that can actively contribute to achieving sustainable and resilient agri-food systems. Empowering women and closing gender gaps in agri-food systems is key to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. This new project will complement Canada’s other efforts to strengthen agricultural entrepreneurship and food systems in the region, notably the CA$19.8 million Sustainable Agriculture in the Caribbean project and our support to Compete Caribbean”.

FAO’s Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, Dr. Renata Clarke stated that the organization has been promoting the use of climate-smart technologies that are adapted to the region and increase efficiency in the use of water, nutrients, biological control agents and reduce the use of pesticides. “Integrating efficient and affordable practices and technologies such as renewable energy for solar pumps

for irrigation, and digital agricultural sensors have also been piloted to improve overall crop management. With the impact of climate and weather hazards, we have introduced Anticipatory Action protocols which are integrated with national Agriculture Disaster Risk Management and Climate Information Services”.

Representatives from regional partner organizations, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), participating in the launch highlighted the project’s significance and its connection to the ‘CARICOM 25 by 2025 Initiative’ and the 10-year Food and Agricultural Systems Transformation (FAST) Strategy.

Vice-President of the CARICOM Youth Advisory Body, Jerard Darville, stressed the anticipated benefits of the project on youth and the region noting “Inclusion of the Youth Advisory Body will empower future leaders and create more inclusive forward-thinking and governance”.

President of the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers, Carmen Nurse reflected that, “Every farmer expects when they plant to harvest, but that is not possible. Farming is no longer predictable. Through this project we want women farmers to build their skills to continue farming using climate-smart agriculture technologies”.

The Regional Gender-Responsive Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Systems in the Caribbean project aims to reach up to 2,500 direct beneficiaries over a four-and-a-half-year period, with women making up 50 percent of the beneficiaries and youth making up 20 percent. The project will engage more than 30 farmer organizations, including women and youth-led organizations, over the implementation period. While targeting eight Caribbean countries, there will be broad regional benefits for all CARICOM Member States.