PR – Fellow Grenadians, as Minister for Agriculture and lands, I am pleased to once again be associated with this important celebration of World Day to Combat Desertification.
The United Nations observance of Desertification and Drought Day is held on 17 June each year. In 2020 the focus will be on changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation: humanity’s relentless production and consumption.
Plants and animals provide most of our food and clothing. Therefore, as the demand for food, feed and fibre increase, there is an increasing competition for arable lands – a competition we expect to intensify with increases in global middle classes and overall population growth.
It is important to note that globally almost 75% of all lands have been transformed from its natural state, and the pace of conversion is accelerating. This puts lands for agricultural use at a disadvantage as the demands for lands for urban expansion and infrastructure are growing, which contribute to the advent of climate change.
It is projected that by 2050, the planet will be home to ten billion people deserving of food and fashion, which require prompt changes to lifestyles, thus influencing business practices and policies. Therefore, as we seek to implement mitigation measures, Desertification and Drought Day seeks to regulate the use of food, feed and fibre, thus promoting the wise use of our land resources that support all life forms.
It is estimated that by 2020
- An extra 593 million hectares of agricultural land will be required for food production.
- Water in food production could reach 10-13 trillion cubic meters annually.
- Land used for grazing and grain production to feed animals will account for 80% of agricultural land globally.
- 90% of natural ecosystems will transform, primarily to produce food, feed, fibre and fuel.
It is obvious that the amount of productive lands will decrease further due to climate change, which will hinder efforts to recover the land’s productivity. However, it must also be noted that lands use for food, feed, and fibre are also contributing to climate change.
As we continue to minimize the impact of Desertification and Drought, we are called to make changes in consumer and corporate behaviour, and the adoption of more efficient land use planning and more sustainable land management practices.
Urbanization and globalization mean that land degradation is driven by demand for products that are consumed in urban areas or other countries. This puts the responsibility for land degradation on the doorstep of every individual consumer. The choices people make when buying food or clothing have long-term consequences on the land, thus impacting future generations.
My Ministry is taking the lead through drafted and soon to be approved polices that focus on land and drought; with the soon to commence UNDP GEF Ecosystem and landscape restoration project that will focus on restoration of degradation projects and is about to submit to the GEF with our regional brothers, a project named SOILCARE that will focus on enhancing our soils to guarantee their fertility for the next generations. We are also about to begin the preparation of a Land Degradation Neutrality Transformative Project that will focus on the Cocoa, Nutmeg and Forestry subsectors, thus re- cultivating thousands of acres that have been left abandoned, since the passage of hurricanes Ivan and Emily.
It is my wish that Grenada will once more become a major producer and supplier of a wide variety of agricultural crops to meet our local needs and for export to contribute to National Sustainable Development.
I believe that we are a nation that has been endowed by God with rich fertile soils and we should utilize it in a wise and sustainable manner to improve livelihoods and maintain a healthy environment.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and by extension the Government of Grenada and on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification in 2020, invite all Grenadians to take some time to reflect on all the benefits that past and present
generations have enjoyed and commit ourselves to doing more to preserve our lands for future generations.
May God help us as we seek to reverse the negatives that have afflicted the sector over the years and bless all farmers and landowners across this beautiful island nation of ours.
I THANK YOU