Friday, December 12, 2014

Addressing Climate Change in Partners' Farmer-to-Farmer Program

Photo taken by F2F volunteer (Nov. 2014):
Fallen banana trees after a severe wind storm
As the Conference on Climate Change in Lima comes to an end, Secretary John Kerry urged the world to think about the economic impacts of climate change on agriculture. He reports that the changing climate will reduce the production capacity of crops such as rice, maize, or wheat by two percent each decade. (See remarks here). This means millions of farmers around the world may face greater threats of hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity. However, Kerry notes, “there is still time for us to come together as a global community . . . and every nation has a responsibility to do its part if we’re going to pass this test.

Photo taken by F2F volunteer (Nov. 2014): Flooding in Montecristi
Partners of the Americas’ Farmer-to-Farmer program is taking strides to take this to heart in the Dominican Republic. As a small island, the Dominican Republic is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. According to the Germanwatch 2014 Climate Risk Index, the Dominican Republic is the fourth most affected country in Latin America by weather events, as well as one of the top ten most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. The Dominican Republic is already experiencing the effects of sea level rise, warmer weather, and more frequent flooding. Another pressing concern is that climate change is negatively affecting the stability of the country’s water supply with disproportionate effects on vulnerable populations. The country’s vulnerability level will continue increasing as climate change brings more floods, extreme storms, landslides, and droughts, along with slower climate change effects such as a rise in sea level, and a reduction in water quality and quantity.

Photo taken by F2F volunteer (Nov. 2014): Flooding in Montecristi
The Farmer-to-Farmer program normally focuses on improving food security through value chains and agricultural processing, production, and marketing. In the Dominican Republic, Partners’ F2F program has adapted to local needs to focus on building the capacity of farmers in the Yaque del Norte region in areas such as water resource management, institutional capacity building, risk-reduction measures, and sustainable climate-smart agricultural technologies. Since May 2014, Partners has sent 20 F2F volunteers to the Dominican Republic who have provided training in areas such as wastewater management, soil and agroforestry conservation, disaster risk management, and environmental education curriculum development. Through F2F and in collaboration with in-country partners, Partners is helping to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change and to promote the incorporation of adaptation and mitigation strategies among farmers, associations, and the local community.

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