The Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM) has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining on a J$50-million Soil Regeneration and Fertility Improvement project. The project is aimed at improving soil conditions islandwide.
Portfolio Minister Floyd Green said that the funding is necessary and it will allow for farmers to be introduced to organic soil practices. He was speaking at the World Soil Day seminar on Tuesday, December 5.
Green explained that the JOAM will be working in conjunction with the Bodles Research Station in St Catherine on the project.
“We are going to be looking on upgrading our testing capacity at Bodles and across our agricultural land-management divisions. We are going to be training our farmers in relation to composting, mulching and water management,” he said.
Nicola Shirley-Phillipps, past president of JOAM, said that a key part of the undertaking is to ensure that Jamaica has the capability to provide high-quality soil testing for farmers.
“We are excited about working with all the stakeholders. We are working with the soil lab [at Bodles] to make sure that we don’t have to send our soil to test abroad and ensure that we have the capacity to do that work. We are also looking at our microclimate, and we need to have the data to back that,” she noted.
In furtherance of this endeavour, two demonstration plots will be planted per parish so that farmers can see the practical application of organic practices.
“So, we are going to be talking about the soil [food] web, teaching them about new methodologies and not to just slash and burn, but how they can make compost with things they would normally discard. We are not just talking about it, you will be able to see it, we will be gathering data,” Shirley-Phillipps added.
December 5 is recognised as World Soil Day as a means of focusing attention and raising awareness of the importance of healthy soil and advocating for sustainable management of soil resources.
“This year’s observance, under the theme ‘Soil and Water: A Source of Life’, is fitting,” Green said, “as it highlights the important relationship between water and soil to the agriculture sector and food security”.