In recent years, the earth has experienced drastic changes in its climate. These changes have precipitated fluctuations in temperatures and rainfall, which have affected the biological systems of the world. This has contributed to severe weather patterns, with many countries, particularly the Caribbean, experiencing hurricanes, torrential rains, flooding, sea-level rise and droughts.
Consequently, islands such as Dominica, Grenada, Antigua and Jamaica have been devasted by extreme weather events resulting in many socio-economic challenges which hinder the attainment of sustainable development. These increasing vulnerabilities have exacerbated pre-existing social issues such as poverty, crime, susceptibility to external shocks, and debt burden. Such events highlight the importance of implementing mitigation strategies and disaster risk reduction initiatives, especially as it relates to the agricultural sector which has been the foundation of regional societies for many years. Agriculture remains an important economic sector in the Caribbean and provides a source of employment for many people. It contributes to improving rural incomes, increasing food security and the physical and the infrastructural development of many countries.
The CPDC has been working with small farmers throughout the Eastern Caribbean for decades, most notably with networks such as the Windward Islands Farmers Association. Recent interactions with these organisations have revealed that although farmers are increasingly aware of the impacts of natural disasters, specific knowledge, strategies and technical know-how to deal with the impacts are lacking. A 2020 CPDC Study on Natural Disaster Impacts on Small Farming Operations in the Eastern Caribbean countries of Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines revealed that farmers currently face increased uncertainty due to the acute vulnerability of their livelihoods resulting from the Caribbean’s high exposure to extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change. The study revealed that farmers were desirous of learning more about how they can reduce the impact of natural disasters on their livelihoods through access to technical assistance and educational initiatives related to application of climate-smart agricultural techniques and disaster risk management methodologies to aid the sustainability of their small scale farm holdings.
- Enhanced awareness amongst small farmers in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines about the socio-economic effects of natural disasters on their farming operations and application of adaptation measures as well as disaster risk management initiatives.
- Increased capacity, awareness and education of small farmers to mitigate the impacts and effects of natural disasters and hurricanes on their micro/small holdings.
- Enhanced skills of small-scale farmers to utilise disaster mitigation and preparedness techniques and strategies to assist in the sustainability of their operations.