St Vincent imports much of its food, for example cheap subsidized chicken parts from US. The tendency is to import more and more food, which affects our local economy.
Half of our population lives in rural areas and 25% are employed in farming, but little food is produced. The farming population is aging (80% are over 35 years old). Few young people go into farming. Banana production is being phased out as preferential EU prices go down, apart from export to islands in the region. Food prices will keep on increasing, and this means a number of farmers will give up farming and move to the towns, if no special measures are taken. There will be more dry periods and this will mean that irrigation systems need to become more widespread. Rainfall will decrease (25% over 20 years) but fall more violently and on fewer days. This will lead to more destructions of agricultural crops and fields.
The island has plenty of water, but the dry season now lasts a longer time. Only 7% of agricultural land is irrigated.
A food compliant St Vincent in 2021
St. Vincent is self-sufficient with basic food - sweet potatoes, cassava, plantain, peanuts, beans, vegetables, fruits. Much of this organically produced.
There is an increase in production of crops that are less sensitive to droughts. Water reservoirs have been built and affordable irrigation systems installed.
Vocational students have been trained in setting up these systems.
Few agricultural fields are monocultures. Most have mixed cropping in forest gardens that are better protected against damages from the stronger winds and more violent downpours. For example,we can see better erosion control with the use of vetiver grass. Permaculture is widespread.
Some farmers have been trained to produce seeds and cuttings to ensure a local supply.
Organic Model Garden Farms have been set up all around the island and farmers have been trained and are copying the systems. Some of the models are at schools with access to land and others have parents with available land to display the model gardens.
Soils are being improved with compost - also because of the high fertilizer/pesticide prices in 2021.
Farmers have also started to improve their soils with biochar (charcoal dust) produced from fencing trees and other organic material. The biochar buries carbon in the ground and at the same time improves the fertility.
The whole population has been mobilized on the importance of healthy food, and many have changed their eating habits.
Groups of youths rent and use available land, for example, around RVA and in other areas on St Vincent; to produce vegetables and organic meat. People are growing the animal feed instead of importing it. For example, this done by using moringa leaves as the protein supply.
These organic products and vegetables are also sold to the tourist resorts.
The Climate Compliance Conference Participants study, research, and take action.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of questions to dig into. The list for the Anchor Theme: 1: Climate Compliance Actions for Food and Water is constantly being changed and amplified by each of the teams going through their six months program of making Richmond Vale Academy and St. Vincent, climate compliant. You can call it a giant to-do list for this ten year program.
Examples of questions and concepts the conference works with when digging deep into becoming Climate Compliant within the area of food production and food consumption:
1. What makes our food production Climate Compliant?
2. In what ways are food production and food consumption on St. Vincent, Climate Compliant and in what ways not?
3. Which foods are imported to St. Vincent? What alternatives could we make for local produce? Are there some products for which it still makes more sense economically, ecologically, or both to keep on importing?
4. Water usage at Richmond Vale Academy - sustainability and improvements with respect both to personal use and use in the food production.
5. Solutions for reuse of water.
6. Permaculture in the tropics.
7. Understanding nutrition and what happens to it when food is processed
8. How can food produced thousands of miles away be cheaper than locally produced food? What is wrong and how can it be stopped?
9. How and what to fish and collect from the ocean to be Climate Compliant?
10. How to make economic incentives for local food production?