St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda: A training session on soil sampling and processing techniques was hosted by Vernon Bird, Analyst at the Department of the Analytical Services within the Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday, June 1st, 2023.
The training session was for the technical team conducting the National Soil Surveys in Antigua and Barbuda under the project, “Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Multicountry Soil Management Initiative for Integrated Landscape Restoration and Sustainable Food Systems: Phase 1 (CSIDS_SOILCARE Phase 1)”.
The 3-week exercise will commence on Monday, June 5 with an official launch at the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters and our technicians will then begin surveys in Barbuda from June 6 to 10 and in Antigua from June 12 to 21 which will cover the five agricultural districts.
According to the update by the Ministry of Agriculture of Antigua and Barbuda, the project is a joint venture between the Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (PISLM), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the University of the West Indies (UWI) – St Augustine and the UNCCD.
These partnerships in collaboration with country governments allow cooperation between developed and developing countries, particularly around knowledge and technology transfer for sustainable land management to meet SDGs.
The technical team comprises technicians from the Agricultural Extension Division, Forestry Division, Statistics, Research and IT Division, and Department of Analytical Services.
As Antigua and Barbuda prepares to roll out its national soil survey, the objectives of this training were to brief members of the sampling team on basic characteristics of soil, soil sampling, and processing protocols before the arrival of the University of the West Indies (UWI) – St Augustine team led by Dr Gaius Eudoxie.
The outcome of this exercise will be the production of state-of-the-art soil maps that will provide data on soil organic content and amongst other outputs include capacity building for technicians within the Ministry of Agriculture.
The information gathered will update the current soil knowledge nationally and regionally which will assist in establishing the Caribbean Soil Laboratory Network and the Caribbean Soil Information System for guiding the rehabilitation of degraded land and soils, building resilience against natural disasters and climate change, enhancing food systems, and creating alternative livelihoods within the agricultural sector.
This will assist Antigua and Barbuda in increasing its capacity to prioritize measures that will advance integrated landscape management and rehabilitate degraded areas.
The team will sample about 120 sites which will span both Antigua and Barbuda where two subsamples will be taken at each sampling point. Given the vast amount of samples, it is highly likely that some sites may fall on private properties and the sampling team would require access to successfully undertake the activity.
In this regard, the Ministry of Agriculture kindly requests the cooperation of the public and private property owners in facilitating the technical project team’s access to designated sites. Team members will be identifiable with their respective uniforms, IDs, and government-issued/branded vehicles.