Forestry Programme Closes One Year Emergency Assistance Response Project

The Ministry of Agriculture will bring to a close the 1 year Emergency Assistance Response Project, funded through the Food and Agriculture Organization, to assist farmers affected by the December 2013 adverse weather system.

A release from the Ministry says the project consisted of a number of programs, with the general objective of providing assistance for the recovery of vulnerable farmers affected by the rains and winds associated with the storm.

This project will come to an end when the Forestry Department completes the educational component of the program to which they were assigned. The Forestry program was funded to the tune of EC$220,000, “to support affected farmers in rehabilitation their production capacity, to clean up the riverbeds and to rehabilitate riverbanks and slopes with trees and other vegetation in order to stabilise the areas against erosion.

As such, through the Inter-American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture (IICA) the coordinating agent, the Forestry Department since March of 2014, has been involved in the execution of the project, focusing on the following areas outlined for attention
1. The stabilization of 8 slopes prone to collapse and erosion by the construction of soil conservation measures inclusive of contour drains, grass barriers and tree establishment. Affected slopes at Troumaca, Coulls Hill and Belle Isle have been stabilized
2. The rehabilitation of 8km of forest road in the Hermitage watershed area and the Vermont Mountain road.
3. The cleaning up of riverbeds of logs, debris that prevent the free flow of water
4. Stabilization of river banks with simple engineering works complemented by the planting of trees.

Accordingly, an embankment that threatened major land slippage and the smooth movement of traffic along the Belle Isle road, close to the new rehabilitation centre, the Belle Isle Prison, has been stabilized with appropriate soil conservation measures. Additionally, the Forestry Department has cleaned over half a mile of the Vermont and Richmond River beds, removing over 2 tons of materials.

These activities are now being complemented with an educational program, which comprises the hosting of a number of community workshops within the affected communities. They will be held under the theme “Building resilience in the agricultural and rural sectors. The main aim is to highlight and find solutions to some of the issues in the communities that contributed to the levels of destruction experienced, in preparedness of similar occurrences. As such, issues relating to climate change, Good Agricultural Practices, wanton and traditional burning of fire on vulnerable slopes and within the forests, deforestation and improper disposal of roof and domestic water will be the major topics discussed.

The workshops will be held from 14th – 23rd April with four (4) schools and three (3) of the major communities (Barrouallie, Rose Bank and Chateaubelair). The resource persons are from the Ministry of Health, the Central Water and Sewerage Authority, the Agricultural and Advisory Services and the Forestry Department.