The German Development Cooperation (GIZ), and the Environmental Health and Sustainable Development Department of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) jointly operate the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions Programme (CATS) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and CARICOM. CATS advocates a ‘ridge-to-reef’ approach to foster both the conservation of marine biodiversity and coastal protection and to promote adaptive measures to climate change in agriculture, forestry, and water management. One of the focus areas of the terrestrial component is the explicit support of farmer groups and extension services to strengthen sustainable agriculture throughout the Caribbean, that is, a farming community, which is well adapted to cater the community with affordable and healthy food, as well as to preserve our precious and fragile environment on which we all sustain.
In cooperation with GIZ’s Sustainable Agriculture Unit (Germany) and the University of Applied Sciences (HAFL, Switzerland), CATS recently put together a hands-on training held in Grenada from November 3rd through 8th 2014. A team of trainers, namely, Dr Christian Thalmann, (HAFL), Dr Alexander Schoening, Dr Alberto Camacho (both GIZ Headquarters, Germany), and Ms Eva Maria Naeher (CATS, GIZ Saint Lucia), guided an appointed group of farmers, extension officers, and state agriculture officials on a three-day workshop on “Modules on Sustainable Agriculture”. The workshop provided a vivid forum for presentations and in-depth discussions on sustainable agriculture within the Caribbean. Delegates included commissioned extension officers from five island states, namely, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), and included appointed delegates representing the farming community and non-governmental organization, namely, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI), the Belle Vue Farmers’ Cooperative (BVFC, St. Lucia), the North East Farmers’ Organization (NEFO, Grenada), the Jamaica Organic Agricultural Movement (JOAM), the Jamaica Conservation & Development Trust (JCDT), Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA) and the Caribbean Farmers Network (CAFAN).
RISE to the Challenge
In a second part of the workshop, extension officers and IICA representatives were introduced to RISE. The acronym stands for Response-Inducing Sustainability Evaluation. It constitutes a computerised assessment tool, which provides with an indicator-based method for assessing holistically the sustainability of farm operations and agricultural enterprises. RISE evaluations are conducted through structured in-depth interviews and accompanying farm visits. Ten indicators serve as the principal guides along which environmental, economic, and social aspects are gauged. The data is visualized as a “sustainability polygon” and serves the foundation to a feedback dialogue where farmer and licensed RISE advisors jointly identify the main criteria for improving general farm performance and sustainable-development aspects. RISE certification requires prospective RISE advisors to complete a total of five qualifying RISE evaluation. Consequently, the workshop concluded with initial RISE evaluations throughout the Beausejour Watershed in Grenada.All candidates are required to conduct remaining RISE evaluations in their respective home countries to qualify as licensed RISE advisors. CATS aims to support all candidates to successfully complete certification to enable them to serve the farming community with well-tailored agricultural advisory services. Moreover, collected data will provide with an important baseline needed to assess various sustainability aspects in smallholder agriculture as a building block to develop well-targeted strategies to promote sustainable agriculture in small island states throughout the Caribbean. A short documentary about RISE and the workshop entitled “RISE to the Challenge” is available on CATS’ Youtube Channel. More information on RISE and HAFL