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Ongoing loss of farm land cause for concern

Published:Wednesday | August 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

Jamaica, having lost 308,000-hectares of farm land, is on track to continue to lose an estimated 10,000 hectares, a situation which if left unchecked will equate to 44 per cent of its total arable farm land being lost by 2030. That warning came from George Smith, president of the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society on Monday during the final day of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show at May Pen, Clarendon.

An engineer assistant who operates a livestock farm, Smith has been researching and keeping track of the different weather-related disasters across the world, with a view to learning some critical lessons that the region needs to learn.

“It is expected that due to climate change-related natural disasters, especially hurricanes, droughts could result in losses estimated at US$22 billion a year by 2050 throughout the Caribbean," Smith told the Denbigh Show.

"That in itself tells us how resilient the Caribbean must become. Just look around at several of our neighbours in the recent weather-related disasters from which their economies have been totally devastated,” he added.

Jamaica’s much vaunted Vision 2030 is already in jeopardy if the president of the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society’s projection for the accumulative fallout from climate change is on track.

“We in the region must incorporate climate change adaptation strategies in every aspect of agriculture planning in order to achieve food security.," he told The Gleaner. "We are looking at tourism and everything else; but we are not looking at how we are gonna feed our people, if something happens. Personally, I think it is only matter of time, that the next big war is going to be about food,” he argued.


If the region is to achieve any semblance of food and nutrition security, Jamaica must continue to play the pivotal leadership role, according the Cayman Islander.

“You guys are the leader,” he told The Gleaner. “I must remind you that we (the Caribbean) don’t have the luxury of being partisan. We must show the will to create new policies that strengthen what is good; embracing what has potential and discarding what hinders development, he said.

Smith, who was attending the annual Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show for about the fifth time recalled a quote from a former prime minister which has stuck with him and continues to inform his global outlook.

"Any country that relies on the rest of the world is at the mercy of the rest of the world.”