Last year we had a memorable trip up into the Yallahs-Hope Watershed with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). As part of the project, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), farmers are trained in Field Schools in sustainable land management. There is also a push towards agro-forestry, which I believe is the way to go. Here is NEPA’s press release, below.
20 February 2018
Ten Thousand Coffee Suckers Distributed to Farmers Toward Maintaining Sustainable Livelihoods
Ten thousand coffee suckers have been distributed to 100 farmers in St. Thomas as part of a sustainable livelihood programme.
Farmers in the Windsor Forest and Richmond Gap communities recently benefited from the seedling distribution as part of a 13-week in field practical land husbandry training called Farmer Field School.
Conducted under the tutelage of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Farmer Field School programme teaches farmers how to implement climate-smart land management techniques to protect their soil, reduce erosion and improve productivity.
The training is part of the National Environment and Planning Agency’s (NEPA) Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas Project.
Nelsa English-Johnson, Yallahs-Hope Watershed Project Manager says while January has not traditionally been known for planting coffee, the consistent rains being experienced by the island make it the perfect time to plant.
“The recent rains, though causing damage in parts of the island, have provided the most suitable conditions for coffee farmers. The suckers will be carefully monitored by NEPA and RADA to ensure the farmers practice the best land husbandry techniques they’ve been learning to reduce soil erosion,” English-Johnson said.
The recent coffee seedlings were purchased from the Wallenford Coffee Company. Barrington Pearson, Manager of Blue Mountain Region at Wallenford says the company is also volunteering to provide technical assistance to the farmers to ensure the plants are properly managed to maturity.
“We have an extension department where our officers will keep in contact with the farmers, ensure that best practices in coffee culture are applied and guide them right through to the stage of reaping,” he said.
Mr. Pearson affirmed that the farmers will be under no obligation to sell the matured coffee to the Wallenford Group.
“This is on behalf of Jamaica’s coffee industry. There is no substitute for Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. We are just happy to be assisting the island’s coffee industry,” Pearson said.
The Yallahs River and Hope River Watershed Management Units account for approximately 7% of the island’s agricultural produce. They are home to the world renowned Blue Mountain Coffee and are the source of 42% of the potable water supplying the Kingston Metropolitan Area, Yallahs and its environs.
The recent coffee distribution adds to a total fourteen thousand one hundred (14,100) coffee, fruit and timber seedlings, which have been provided to farmers in St. Andrew and St. Thomas communities. The effort is aimed at restoring some 520 hectares of the degraded lands within the watersheds, by having the farmers implement agroforestry practices on their farms.
A further 200 farmers, who are currently enrolled in new Farmer Field Schools will soon benefit from similar tree distributions. NEPA will also next month begin to target private land owners to volunteer their lands towards the agroforestry goal for land restoration and biodiversity enhancement.
For more information, please contact:
Patrice Gilpin; Communication Specialist, Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas Project. Tel: (876)754-7540; Cell Phone: (876)352-0190; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org