Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Women learning more sustainable farming techniques


Often totally dependent on rainfall for irrigation, battling increasingly longer droughts and intense bursts when the rain does come, Caribbean women farmers are looking to more sustainable means of crop production.

With UN Women support, the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) has led a project focused on women agricultural producers’ role in sustainable development in the Caribbean. Implemented in Barbados, Grenada and Jamaica, the project aims to reduce women’s lack of access to resources.

The crops include Irish potatoes, organic mushrooms, strawberries, vegetables and other fruit for the production of juices, pepper sauces and dried fruits.

Through workshops on the evolving green economy – an approach that will result in improved human well-being and reduced inequalities, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities – the women learn to use more sustainable farming methods as a more stable and reliable way of making a living.

Theresia Msacky, from Grenada, said she learnt about water conservation and rain-water harvesting.

“We learned about the importance of crop rotation,” she explained, “not planting an entire area in one crop but rotating the area… and using natural materials in the environment to conserve the moisture and increase the fertility of the soil. Now I am also using natural barriers like lemongrass to eradicate the crop pests.”

“In the Caribbean, young women outperform young men in secondary and tertiary education, and yet when it comes to active labour market participation or economic empowerment, women are most likely to be unemployed, underemployed, or poor,” says Christine Arab, UN Women Representative for the Caribbean region.

“Through supporting local NGOs in bridging the gender divide in the areas of agriculture education, infrastructure investment, and a strengthened understanding of the laws and services which promote women’s security in the home and in public spaces, UN Women believes that women’s livelihoods will be secured, thereby enhancing the resilience of local communities in the face of the economic challenges facing the Caribbean.”

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