A brain-stormed organic approach to agriculture

Caribbean countries are particularly susceptible to climate change related risks.

For these reasons, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Ministries of Agriculture of the Eastern Caribbean States (ECS) and other partners launched a Regional Competition to identify, document and disseminate successful cases of the implementation of technologies and practices that are contributing to climate smart agriculture in the ECS. This competition is part of a broader effort to develop capacities and strengthen institutions to enable an effective response to climate change by the region’s agrifood sector.

 

Richmond Vale Academy is featured in this book by IICA and the national winner for St. Vincent and the Grenadines featuring Climate Smart practises.

 
The challenges posed by Climate Change Over the past several decades, multiple climate changes have occurred across the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), located in the Lesser Antilles, including increasing temperatures, changes in water availability and precipitation, and increasing instances of floods. The December 2013 floods, for example, adversely affected many agricultural zones across SVG and several regions are still recovering.
 
These changing climatic conditions, especially over the last twenty years, have presented multiple risks to the country’s agricultural sector, affecting the productivity and quality of crops. Marked changes in rainfall dynamics, with more frequent and intense precipitation events, and more frequent and pronounced drought events that disrupt farming and other economic activities, have presented new
challenges for farmers. Farmers are now forced to respond to these adverse changes that affect the way they are accustomed to farming and threaten to destabilize the economic viability of many farming communities.
 
These changes, along with increasing climate variability, have influenced soil fertility, crop selection, and harvesting times. The emerging challenges have prompted a need for change in agricultural practices and technologies on the islands. Innovators in the community of farmers in SVG have realized that to tackle these issues, both mitigation and adaptation measures need to be implemented, and have thus committed to working towards creating more resilient agricultural systems.

 

The solution

Located on 30 acres of farmland on the Leeward coast of St. Vincent, beyond the town of Chateaubelair, Richmond Vale Academy is a non-profit educational institution that seeks to train local and international youth in climate change, food security and poverty reduction through on-farm education. Established in 2002, women and youth represent over 70% of the current student body, which consists of both local (1/3) and foreign (2/3) individuals.
 
 
The Academy’s philosophy embraces environmental sustainability, as an initial assessment by the institution indicated a need to transition from the widely practiced conventional approach to farming, to the use of practices that foment a food, energy and disaster secure production system. Now focused on organic crop and livestock production, composting and water harvesting techniques, the Academy leads on-farm capacity building programmes, environmental education drives and awareness raising efforts to encourage resilient crop production, improved livelihoods and a healthy environment.
 
The Richmond Vale Academy has employed multiple climate-smart techniques including: Organic Production, Permaculture, Protected agriculture, Energy efficiency, Erosion Control, Water Recycling, Agroforestry, Mulching and Capacity building.
 
A brain-stormed organic approach to agriculture

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