St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda has shared a glimpse of the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) Project on irrigation management, pest and disease monitoring and forecasting component – phase 3.
The GCCA Project held a two-day workshop which spanned from July 20 to 21, 2023 had two components which were theoretical and were held at the extension division and a practical session held at Dunbars Experimental Station.
“To support the climate compatible development of the CARIFORUM countries to combat the negative impacts of climate change, while simultaneously exploring opportunities presented.”
• To strengthen the resilience in the agricultural and water sectors via increased capacity to better utilize the information generated via the observation and monitoring network in decision-making.
Results to be achieved by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH)
Result 4: Regional capacities to implement sector-based (agriculture and water) climate change adoption strategies improved via increased access to and uptake of weather and climate-related products and services derived from the region’s monitoring network.
Introductions and an overview were done by Maud Vere Bradford. The project is being coordinated through the office of the Director of Agriculture, Gregory Bailey, with the Senior Research Officer, Maud Vere Bradford being the focal point, mainly supported by the Statistics Unit, Plant Protection Unit, the Agricultural Extension Division and Brent Georges, the Ministry’s Project Coordinator.
Brief remarks were delivered by Dale Destin, Director of Metrological Services. In his remarks, Destin gave a synopsis of the project’s origin, logistics, and involvement of his agency regarding the vital roles it plays as a stakeholder.
A presentation of agrometeorological whitefly and mildew models was delivered by Giulia Pastacaldi from the University of Florence, Italy. According to Pastacaldi, 20 – 40% of the global potential crop production annually is lost to weeds, pests and diseases. These diseases are caused by any of the two hundred and fifty viruses discovered; thankfully, these viruses only attack plants and not humans.
Present at the workshop also were representatives from the Antigua Metrological Services, Antigua Public Utilities Authority, CARDI, IICA, technicians and field workers of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The first session was an introduction to an electronic programme called AquaCrop. Pastacaldi explained the programme and how it can be used to generate data pertaining to water retention, water quality and conduct other assessments on soil moisture. Those present participated in an Aqua crop assimilation.
AquaCrop is a crop growth model developed by the Land and Water Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization to address food security and assess the effect of environment and management on crop production. AquaCrop simulates yield response to water of herbaceous crops and is particularly suited to address conditions where water is a key limiting factor in crop production. An optimum balance between simplicity, accuracy and robustness was pursued when designing the model. To be widely applicable AquaCrop uses only a relatively small number of explicit parameters and mostly intuitive input variables requiring simple methods for their determination. On the other hand, the calculation procedures are grounded on basic and often complex biophysical processes to guarantee an accurate simulation of the response of the crop in the plant-soil system.
Currently ongoing are two field trials to investigate the impact of different irrigation regimes on crop yields and incidences of pests and diseases during the wet and dry seasons on stations: Greencastle Agricultural and Dunbars Experimental Stations. The crops under study are butternut and tomato, with six treatments of study. At the Dunbars Experimental Station, one of the experimental sites, Pastacaldi and Stoute demonstrated to participants how the assessments should be done and further training for the MOA and other staff will be continued under the supervision of Bradford and Brent Georges.