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Letter: 'Land Labs' - a rare and misunderstood resource
Published on July 5, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

There continues to be a need to break the misunderstanding of the value that ‘land labs’ give voluntarily to Trinidad and Tobago. On Monday the Tableland Pineapple Farmers Association (TPFA) held its annual tour to the estates with an aim to publicize the plight of the family farmer and create a positive image of agriculture for the next generation of men, women, boys and girls – consumers, students, agriculturalists, environmentalists, tourists, and technocrats.

Seizing yet another opportunity to know where your food comes from, how it is produced and to appreciate the circumstances of the men and women who feed us; over 100 participants came from across the country, Sangre Grande to Cedros. Based within the south-eastern region of the country, representing mainly rural and agricultural communities, the TPFA has partnered with various stakeholders in hosting an educational tour using these core communities as the focal point.

Too often, ‘small’ farmers feel marginalized and face significant barriers, including lack of access to financing, markets and resources that do not allow them to produce enough food in sufficient volume and variety to satisfy national demand. In addition to economic and cultural barriers, climate-related disasters such as prolonged dry spells and floods bring more vulnerability and invigorate income gaps and poverty across agricultural communities.

It is possible that consumption patterns of rural and economically distressed areas are highly vulnerable to national declines in agricultural production and households may fall easily from borderline to poor consumption, both in food and nutrition, in the wake of natural hazards and economic distress.

Climate-smart agriculture aims to tackle three main objectives: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, adapting and building resilience to climate change and, reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions, where possible. Conservation agriculture can sustainably address soil degradation and improve crop yields

Educating on, and adopting approaches related to these can significantly impact general agriculture practiced in Trinidad and Tobago; however, its success among our farmers is not known. We need to explore the extent of these agricultural practices used by farmers; determine the perceptions among farmers with some history of practicing the technology; and understand and demonstrate the impact of practicing conservation and climate-smart agriculture components on soil quality indicators.

Very often the lack of appropriate equipment, labour availability and cost, costly chemical inputs, land tenure and praedial larceny are the major constraining factors to adopting modern and innovative approaches.

In some ways, a dependency on government grants and subsidies could be a disincentive towards the adoption of agricultural innovations while in other ways, appropriately targeting interventions and support is needed. Therefore, the identification of practical key entry points is recommended, bearing in mind the noted impediments to adoption and the general constraints facing our agriculture industry.

The TPFA used the opportunity to initiate a momentum towards its annual Eat Local Day to be observed in December.

Omardath Maharaj
Agricultural Economist
Reads: 2770

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