Caribbean Agrometeorological Initiative

Challenge
The agricultural sector in the Caribbean faces a number of serious problems and is generally on the decline in most of the islands. Its inability to keep pace with other sectors of the economy and population growth forced an increase in food imports. The problems include: loss of preferences in export markets; inefficient production and falling yields; use of marginal lands for domestic food production; slow traditional farming methods, including slash-and-burn methods; serious soil erosion in the mountainous islands; slow technological advances; diseases and shortage of inputs; and lack of appropriate and timely dissemination of weather and climate information to promote sustainable agriculture.

Focus
The project will contribute to increased and sustainable agricultural productivity at farm level in the Caribbean region through improved dissemination and application of weather and climate information. It will use an integrated and co-ordinated approach of networking with the meteorological services and regional and international research institutions to assist the farming community.

Rationale
Weather and climate affect agricultural production in the Caribbean significantly where rainfall variability results in droughts and floods. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the impacts of natural variability and its extremes by, for example, an increasing frequency and intensity of events like floods and droughts. Therefore, it is important to raise the awareness of the farming community in the Caribbean region through the provision of information on climate change and its impacts on their production systems.

Technological developments in the monitoring and application of weather and climate have allowed a noticeable increase in agricultural productivity in several regions around the world and have become a key element for mitigation and prevention of natural disasters. Despite the great impact of climate variability on agricultural productivity in Caribbean countries, agrometeorological applications in this region have progressed at a relatively slower pace compared with other parts in the world. Agrometeorological services, especially the bulletins and advisories based on the production and use of weather and climate information in the Caribbean region, are needed by farmers to make operational decisions related to crop and soil management.

Agrometeorological applications could be improved in the Caribbean region. Given the small size of the countries, there is a lack of trained manpower to provide agrometeorological services and applications on an individual country basis but through a concerted regional networked approach, such services could be made available to the farming community. The project will promote an integrated approach to sustainable development in the Caribbean region through the co-ordination and networking of the limited meteorological services available and their supporting regional and international research institutions.

Method
 - Training of personnel of the participating meteorological and agricultural services and research institutes in relevant aspects of agrometeorology, climate and crop modelling.
 - Development of predictors of the rainy season potential in different Caribbean countries through the analysis of long-term climatic data and the use of seasonal to inter-annual climate prediction models.
 - Interpretation of the climate predictor and near-real time weather information for improved crop management decisions, especially irrigation scheduling, for the important domestic food crops and export crops.
 - Working alongside the agricultural research and extension agencies in developing an effective pest and disease forecasting system through improved crop monitoring and use of modelling approaches.
 - Preparation and wide dissemination of a user-friendly weather and climate information newsletter for the Caribbean farming community in close collaboration with the agricultural research and extension agencies.
 - Organisation of regular fora with the farming community and agricultural extension agencies to promote a better understanding of the applications of weather and climate information and to obtain feedback to provide better products from the meteorological services for use by the farming community.

Outputs

  • Conservation-effective soil and crop management practices to reduce land degradation and improved long-term crop productivity.
  • Enhanced incomes at the farm level for the small farmer through better applications of weather and climate information in soil and crop management.
  • Improved crop quality due to reduced incidence of pests and diseases.
  • Reduced use of insecticides and pesticides.
  • Increased number of trained personnel in national and regional institutions.
  • Newsletters and bulletins on weather and climate information for farming and wider agricultural communities.
  • Availability of regular feedback to the meteorological services on the nature of services and products needed by farmers resulting in the preparation of user-friendly products from the meteorological services.

Outcomes

  • Improved ability of policy makers and extension agencies to exploit the rainy season potential fully through strategic decisions and better preparedness strategies in case of a high probability of the occurrence of extreme events.
  • Better informed farming community regarding the climate situation before and during the crop growing season.
  • Improved capabilities in the farming community to make strategic and tactical decisions for soil and crop management and more efficient irrigation scheduling, especially for domestic food crops and important export crops.
  • Enhanced capacity of the farming community to understand and apply weather and climate information in their operational decisions.
  • Enhanced linkages between meteorological services and agricultural research and extension agencies.
  • Increased interactions between the meteorological services, agricultural extension agencies and the farming community resulting in the provision of better services to farmers.
  •  Enhanced capacity of the participating meteorological and agricultural services and research institutes in agrometeorology, climate and crop modelling.
Grant: FED/2009/217069
Project duration: 36 months (from 10/11/2009 to 09/11/2012)- CLOSED
EC funding: EUR 720,388.20
Total budget: EUR 1,112,714.40
Project contact:

Mr. Adrian Trotman
Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH)
Husbands
St. James BB 23006
P.O. Box 130
Bridgetown
Barbados
Tel: +246-425-1362 / 1363 / 1365
Fax: +246-424-4733
E-mail: atrotman [at] cimh.edu.bb
Web: www.cimh.edu.bb

CAMI
Adrian Trotman