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Climate impacts and resilience in Caribbean agriculture

Assessing the consequences of climate change on cocoa and tomato production in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica

Agriculture is a critical source of domestic income, employment, foreign exchange and livelihoods in the Caribbean. Despite the importance of the agriculture sector however, farmers throughout the Caribbean have limited information on the likely future impacts of climate change and the potential of their crops to withstand these changes.

The sector is moreover constrained by a lack of suitable growing crops for local conditions. This situation is expected to worsen in coming decades as climate change increases the frequency of heat-waves and droughts. Such changes are set to reduce crop productivity and increase instances of crop failure, representing a substantial risk in terms of regional food security and rural livelihoods.

Using innovative technology, the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine and Mona, have connected with farmers to “climate proof” the agriculture sector. Working with two important regional crops – cocoa (a perennial tree crop) and tomato (an annual horticultural crop), the goal was to establish a set of protocols that can be used to screen tropical plants for resilience to drought and heat stress.

Such information empowers regional stakeholders and policy-makers to make informed spatial decisions about which crops to prioritize as long-term agricultural investment. The information gleaned from this project will be used as the basis to screen other regionally important plants for tolerance to climate change.

In another aspect of this project, researchers created crop-climate models for cocoa and tomato plants. These models will help visualize the various ways that climate change could impact current crop production. Critically, this project will help bridge the knowledge gap and increase the dialogue between cocoa and tomato growers and researchers in the Caribbean.

In January 2015 the project team held a workshop with a wide number of stakeholder institutions to share
research findings, methodologies and tools. Participants included the Cocoa Industry Board, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Inter-American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture (IICA).

Outputs include:

CARIBSAVE Contact: Judi Clarke

CDKN Project Manager: Sebastian Kratzer



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