Monday 24 February, 2020

Gov't launches TT$1.7M project to help farmers fight climate change

Local farmers battling the effects of climate change may soon be able to benefit from a new project to assess the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector.

Government has launched a Green Climate Fund (GCF) Readiness Project to monitor and assess the effect of climate change on the local agricultural sector, after being approved for a US$260,000 grant from the Green Climate Fund.

The project, titled 'Improving the monitoring system for climate change impacts on the agricultural sector in Trinidad and Tobago', seeks to record and analyse the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector in an effort to find solutions.  

(FAO representative for Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, Rueben Robinson, speaks at the inception workshop for the GCF Readiness Project 'Improving the monitoring system for climate change impacts on the agricultural sector in Trinidad and Tobago'. The project was granted US$260,000 through the GCF. Photo by Alina Doodnath.)

Reuben Robinson, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative for Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, said Trinidad and Tobago’s dependency on food imports must be changed as the effects of climate change worsen.

“Trinidad and Tobago is described as a net food importer, where more than 70 percent of the food consumed is imported. One can easily see how vulnerable the country is with respect to climate change impacts in those countries on which T&T relies for its food supply.”

“This is even more exacerbated when we look at the domestic situation where the producers or farmers are challenged, exposed to high risk and vulnerabilities due to natural disasters, and in most cases the data to determine and assess the impacts are often not available.”

“This project would seek to put in place the necessary systems that will contribute to effective monitoring of the climate change impacts on the agricultural sector.

“This project will help us to be able to set the baseline for the road map, which will help us to develop a comprehensive proposal for adaptation to climate change in the agricultural sector.”

“FAO seeks to build capacity to protect, restore and diversify the livelihoods of families that depend on agriculture, strengthening the countries food and nutrition security,” he said.

Robinson said he realised that agriculture was ‘very low’ on the country’s list of priorities for NDCs (National Determines Contributions) approached the Ministry of Planning, which proposed granting funding through the GCF.

He said the FAO was able to work with the Ministry alongside the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries to submit a proposal, who, after a six-month application process, was granted approval for the allocation of US$260,000 (TT$1,742,000) for the project.

The Ministry said the project would last approximately 18 months. 

(Photo: Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Planning and Development, Joanne Deoraj, speaks at the launch of the GCF Readiness Project.)

T&T already experiencing impacts of climate change

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Planning and Development, Joanne Deoraj, was nominated as the National Designated Authority (NDA) to the GCF. 

Deoraj said the Environmental Division at the Ministry is committed toward pursuing the funds available through the GCF, adding that the country is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. 


"Our rainfall records from 1961 to 2008 indicates there was an increase in mean surface temperature by 1.7 degrees Celsius, and this has been happening over a number of decades, showing intense rainfall and equally intense dry seasons."

"We have recently experienced droughts and floods simultaneously and of course the agricultural sector and food production is being impacted."

She said the agricultural sector accounts for only five percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"The agricultural sector has been challenged by a number of factors as a result of climate change - we have not been able to maintain the volume of production nor have we been able to manage the extremes of both drought and rainfall, so looking for sustainable, climate change-resistant infrastructure is vitally important," she said. 

To date, Trinidad and Tobago has been allocated US$167,300 from the GCF.

The Ministry outlined Trinidad and Tobago’s projects approved for funding by the GCF to date as follows:

- Readiness Support: Improving the monitoring system for climate change impacts on the agricultural sector in Trinidad and Tobago (approved - 18 months, US$260,000 (TT$1.7M) with FAO

- Readiness Support for Strengthening of the NDA and Development of the Country Programme (approved - two years, $US 662,306 (TT$4.5M) with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre)

- Accreditation support for the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) - Gap assessment (completed)

- Accreditation support for the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) - currently seeking approval 

- CANARI - building capacity of CSOs to to access the GCF

- Focusing on implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) plan 

- Adaptation Planning Readiness Support

- Furthering work on the agricultural sector and climate change

- Health sector and climate change


About the GCF’s Readiness Programme

The Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme (the Readiness Programme) is a funding programme to enhance country ownership and access to GCF.

This strategic priority for GCF provides resources for strengthening the institutional capacities of National Designated Authorities (NDAs) or focal points and Direct Access Entities to efficiently engage with GCF.

It also assists countries in undertaking adaptation planning and developing strategic frameworks to build their programming with GCF.

Resources may be provided in the form of grants or technical assistance.

All developing countries can access the Readiness Programme, and GCF aims that at least 50 per cent of the readiness support available goes to particularly vulnerable countries, including Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and African States. 

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