The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is collaborating with CARDI and the Ministry of Agriculture, to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on small farmers in Antigua and Barbuda. Resources garnered under this initiative are supporting 55 small farmers in rural communities boost local production, through improved irrigation technologies and planting materials.
The fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact farmers and disrupt food supply chains across the country. The agencies are working to improve the availability and accessibility of water on farms. Droughts are becoming more frequent in the country, which has already been identified as one of the most water-scarce islands in the Caribbean. Droughts reduce crop yields and productivity and cause premature death of livestock and poultry leading to serious social and economic consequences.
Four beneficiary farmers had fully automated drip irrigation systems installed on their farms. Farmer Lescharles Joseph said, “with the installation of the irrigation system on my farm I can now improve the amount and quality of food I produce, as without water farming is nothing.”
Additionally, 18 farmers received drip irrigation tapes and farming inputs such as promix and seeds. Through the direct assistance of the project, an additional 11 acres of irrigated lands are now available for vegetable production.
The Ministry of Agriculture has also been supplied with instruments to strengthen their soil and water testing capabilities.
Across in Barbuda, a site in the community of Codrington has been identified for the construction of a multiplication bin and seedling nursery. These would increase the availability of quality planting material to farmers on the island.