Green Farm Training Programme
We aim to transform environmentally, economically and socially unsustainable conventional agricultural practices in the North/ East area into green approaches that contributes to the quality of the water in the area. We hope to positively affect the environmental health as well as to the economic and social welfare of the community. The focus will be on improving the water quality in the area by targeting farmers along the northeast coast of Trinidad that use pesticides in the production of farm produce. The aim will be to reduce the amount of pollutant from getting into our water ways. The programme will be designed for sustainability by creating valuable products and to work with the farmers to strengthen their production with the aim to purchase from them to expand supply capabilities.
Agriculture is also the dominant forms of economic activity in M2M area, however since the 1970’s and 80’s there has been a steady decline in this sector due to the unavailability of labour and the introduction of government assisted employment projects in the area such as the Unemployment Relief Programme and the Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP).
Since 2006 to date however, due to increased food demand and higher food prices, villagers are returning to small-scale agriculture as a viable form of economic activity, assisted by the government supported “back yard grow box scheme” to help families overcome the economic within the area. Agricultural products in the M2M region can be classified into three major categories plantation crops (cocoa, coffee, coconuts and bananas), fruits and vegetables. Other agricultural products in Matura are mainly ducks, honey, corn, water melons, cucumbers, aubergines, tomatoes and other short crops, cassava, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, mangoes, oranges and other seasonal fruits and cooking herbs. Some road side agricultural vendors sell fruits and vegetables to commuters but most farmers go to the main market in Sangre Grande.
Most farmers in the area use conventional chemicals in the production of products. The District Hospital recorded an increase in pesticide poisoning from 29% in 2010 to 34% in 2012. This trend indicates that conventional agricultural practices pose risks to human health and the environment.
This is compounded by the potential impact of climate change on the agricultural community. The T&T Climate Change Policy highlighted specific impacts which are likely to occur:
- Projected increases in ambient air temperature is likely to result in increased aridity of soils and decreased crop yields due to intolerance of crop varieties.
- Projected decreased precipitation is likely to result in increased aridity of soils and decreased crop yields due to less irrigation water availability.
- Projected increase in sea level is likely to result in inundation of coastal areas and salinisation of productive soils, leading to decreased crop yields and available areas for agricultural production
- Projected increases in the incidence of invasive species, pests and diseases.
These potential climate conditions can negatively affect agricultural productivity and lead to an increase in the use of pesticide and fertilizers to boost output, thereby maintaining a vicious cycle of environmental harm.
Nature Seekers proposed to establish a green farm training initiative to work with farmers along the northeast coast to improve the quality of the water and strength the opportunity for farmers to collaborate and cooperate in the production of healthy and safer food. This will be supported by the establishment of a demonstration farm to promote the best practices in green agriculture.