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Evidence from the Field: Lessons from Jamaica's Organic Farms

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Evidence from the Field: Lessons from Jamaica's Organic Farms

  1. 1. EVIDENCE FROM THE FIELD LESSONS FROM JAMAICA’S ORGANIC FARMS Dorienne Rowan-Campbell
  2. 2. THE FAO CITES ORGANIC PRODUCTION AS BEING EFFECTIVE • Prevention • Mitigation • and Assisting with adaptation to Climate Change WHAT HAS BEEN JAMAICA’S EXPERIENCE?
  3. 3. CONTRIBUTING FARMS FARM PARISH PRACTICES DURGA ST ANN Water conservation, natural bldgs, permaculture, solar toilets, ponds JEFFERY TOWN FARMERS GROUP ST MARY Check dams, terracing, greenhouse, communal water sourcing
  4. 4. FARMS Continued ROWAN’S ROYALE PORTLAND Permaculture, terracing, water harvesting, Shade promotion SOURCE FARM ST THOMAS Permaculture, natural bldgs, water harvesting WOODFORD MARKET GARDEN ST ANDREW Protected ag, water harvesting, terracing
  5. 5. JEFFERY TOWN FARMERS ASSOCIATION
  6. 6. BACKGROUND • 4 farmers cultivating 12 acres ( two have lost their leases and are re-organizing) • Mostly hillside farmers 1 greenhouse • Soil type bonny gate clay • Products strawberries in the greenhouse fruit trees, bananas, pineapples breadfruit dasheen mixed fruit various vegetables, carrots
  7. 7. Issues • Rain-fed • Get severe flooding in community and on farms
  8. 8. Actions Taken - Flooding • Built check dams with head trench to force water to soak through rather than rush over fields. • Terracing
  9. 9. Water Access • 1 spring. Use catchments at spring head and solar pumps to lift water. Priority community use but some use for farming • 1 pond. Negotiated with pond owner for use of pond to entrap water to irrigate green house. • Water harvesting on farms
  10. 10. ADAPTATIONS • Changing patterns of production – Focus on strawberries in greenhouse – More emphasis on fruit trees – Seasonal emphasis on root crops rather than green vegetables
  11. 11. Observations • More continuously sustainable and profitable harvests • Report a marked difference with neighboring farmers who have are still losing crops to flooding and drought
  12. 12. ROWAN’S ROYALE FARM CERTIFIED ORGANIC SINCE 2002
  13. 13. Background Rowan’s Royale • 6 acre farm 4000 feet Blue Mountains • Geologically, part of the band identified as Newcastle volcanic, full of fissures and fault lines and the Wag Water enrichment formation The soil itself varies but much of it is shale; non calcareous and conglomerate shales. • pH acidic.
  14. 14. Background cont Some Products Coffee Asparagus Bananas, plantains Mulberries, lemons Mixed greens, peas, beans Turmeric, ginger, coco, sweet potato Issues • Entirely rain-fed • Are in increasing rain shadow in summer • Increased wind • Shortening period of mist/fog –less moisture • Increased heat and sun
  15. 15. Actions • Employing Permaculture techniques • Building berms and swales to trap moisture • Water harvesting • Planting trees for shade • Planting under shade • Canopy use • Changing production patterns • Soil improvements ( top soil inc. organic inspectors reports)
  16. 16. MOISTURE IS CRITICAL FOR QUALITY COFFEE • Lining out the berms and swales for the capture of more moisture for the coffee
  17. 17. Our own brand of water harvesting • Trap water from farm buildings • many 60 gal drums spread out so plants can be easily watered. • .permaculture mulching on terraces • Mosquito prevention
  18. 18. Some adaptations • 2013-14 planted 150 shade trees • Moving back to shade coffee (trees lost after hurricanes) • Planting vegetables under shade • Experimenting with drought resistance crops • Assists with water and moisture retention • Use canopy for chocho and black pepper and beans
  19. 19. RR and CIB data • Float consistently av. <3% (since 2002) • 2015 after drought Higher than normal float percentage, start of the crop was about 35 to 40 percent. Average losses in yield 15 to 20 percent
  20. 20. Observations corroborated by UTECH study on Coffee and Climate Change - Expresso • Neighbouring farmers report • Smaller beans • Lesser yield overall • RR heavier yield, large beans beans • Loss of seedlings. RR lost 6
  21. 21. FAO Environment and Natural Resources Series # 4 2008 Organically Managed soils have a higher potential to counter soil degradation as they are more resilient to water stress and nutrient loss than conventionally managed soils
  22. 22. CORROBORATION FROM FARMS FAO finding is reflected in other organic systems but is so far under-reported and researched in Jamaica. As soil management is at the core of organic processes, maintaining soil health ensures a protection against crop loss in times of flooding and drought. Organic soils use less water..
  23. 23. Organic is an holistic system thus all aspects relate to water management: • Soil management e.g.Composting adds nutrient and organic matter ( imp. To keep water in and soil structure intact) • Provision of shade trees • Terracing • Permaculture • Mulching • Cover crops

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