May 13, 2019
Over 500 farmers in 13 communities in the Yallahs and Hope Rivers Watershed Management Unit (WMUs), in St. Thomas and St. Andrew have been trained in better land management practices to prevent soil erosion, increase crop yields, improve their livelihoods and the quality of water supplied to the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA).
Under the Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas (Yallahs-Hope) Project – Farmer Field Schools programme, the farmers who originate from St Andrew and St Thomas have been exposed to practical demonstrations and peer learning on soil and land management. The most recent Farmer Field School sessions were conducted in the communities of Woodford and Mount Lebanon in the Hope River WMU and Hagley Gap and Kerrick Hill in the Yallahs River WMU. This group of participants is expected to graduate during June 2019.
Manager of the Project, Loúreene Jones said, “the Farmer Field School sessions, which are facilitated by Project Partner, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), have significantly improved the farming practices in the targeted communities.” Ms Jones explained, “the training, when coupled with the distribution of fruit tree seedlings to the farmers, served to increase their earning potential, ultimately facilitating the nation’s food security. The improved farming practices will also result in less sedimentation in our rivers and streams, and maintain an important ecosystem service, which is the provision of water.”
Benefits of Farmer Field Schools
Historically, farmers have practised traditional habits, which have contributed to low yields, land degradation and soil erosion, compromising water quality. The training introduced farmers to new practices to ensure increased productivity, while minimizing soil erosion. Over time, these habits are expected to result in a reduction in sedimentation and increased water quality.
Farms within the Yallahs and Hope Rivers WMU provide up to 7% of the island’s farmlands. Farming practices in these areas have the potential to affect 40% of the potable water which is supplied to the KMA.
In an age of changing climatic conditions, drought and its associated impact are anticipated to become more severe with time. The consequences of drought, however, can be mitigated through the use of climate-smart farming techniques.
About the Yallahs Hope Project
The Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas (Yallahs-Hope) Project is being implemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). The Yallahs-Hope Project is a five year programme, which started in October 2014. Grant funding totaling US$3,909,441 was provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has also provided co-financing of US$ 8,872,357.
The project aims to improve the conservation and management of biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services within the Yallahs River and Hope River WMUs by implementing sustainable agriculture, forestry, land management and livelihood practices within targeted communities.