US$1.6m invested in UWI land management

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

– File photo

The Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (PISLM) has invested US$1.6 million into a sustainable land management project at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine.

This initiative was formalised on Monday through the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the use of 25 acres at UWI’s Orange Grove lands.

Prof Mark Wuddivira, dean of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, said the partnership aims to establish an integrated land-management model integrating agriculture, forestry and natural-resource management practices.

“This collaboration is set to provide developmental, environmental and food-security benefits across the Caribbean, particularly in territories such as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti and St Lucia.”

Wuddivira said the slow pace of innovation and the limited development of environmentally sound climate-resilient technologies is no foreign concept.

He said addressing these gaps would require the design and implementation of climate-resilient food-production systems and regional training exercises.

“The development and implementation of climate-resilient technologies are critical as climate-change impacts intensify.

“Training farmers in these technologies will enhance food-production systems and regional capacity.”

PISLM executive director Calvin James underscored the organisation’s commitment to aiding Caribbean countries in meeting their obligations under the UN Convention to Combat Land Degradation (UNCCD).

“PISLM’s primary project, Soil Care, focuses on updating outdated soil maps and analysing soil carbon content across the Caribbean.”

With the project now expanding into phase two, PISLM is set to roll out a $18 million initiative across 14 countries.

James highlighted the importance of the agreement, which provides PISLM access to the 25-acre site at Orange Grove for testing sustainable technologies.

“This partnership enables us to research and identify resilient agricultural technologies, transforming degraded areas and enhancing regional sustainability.

“This collaboration allows us to go into what we call hot spots and test land-regulation technologies to see if they have the capacity to transform degraded areas.”

The initiative aims to contribute to the Caribbean’s goal of reducing its food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.