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No-till Farming Holds the Key to Food Security

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No-till farming is a response to climate change that fits well with the needs of the Caribbean: it increases the ability to capture water, while withstanding both drought and excessive rains, says expert Theodor Friedrich, representative of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Cuba.

The Caribbean islands are in dire need of new techniques that can ensure food security amid the threats of climate change.

"I do not see why these islands cannot produce enough for their own consumption," Friedrich said in an interview with IPS. "We have to produce more with less, and conservation agriculture is the basis of the strategy recommended by the FAO," he added.

Excerpts from the interview follow:

Q: What are the challenges posed by climate change to food security in the Caribbean region, especially the islands?

A: Weather events here have become more extreme. The rainy or dry seasons are more pronounced, and hurricanes that run frequently and regularly in the area are stronger and less calculable in intensity and impact.

These conditions obviously impact on agriculture, a slow productive sector that requires some environmental stability. Many of the Caribbean islands are mountainous, and poor land management, erosion and hurricanes cause natural disasters, which affect not only rural areas but the entire population.   

Q: Would you say that the lack of sustainable agriculture increases the vulnerability?

A: There are structural (economic) problems in many of these countries that go beyond climate change. While in Cuba, the (U.S. economic) embargo presents an additional situation.

In general, the problems of the other islands are nearly the same: there is no domestic production of supplies or materials (needed) for agriculture. It is cheaper for countries to import agricultural products all at once, instead of producing based on inputs such as fertilisers and machinery - which also have to be imported.

It may also be that politics plays a more important role in these matters.  

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