Five Caribbean Countries To Benefit From New Climate Smart Aquaponics Project

(CMC) – The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says it is supporting an initiative to implement climate-adaptive aquaponics farming and strengthen Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in five Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries.

The region’s premier financial institution said it is expanding its collaboration with INMED Partnerships for Children/INMED Caribbean to enhance the capacity of small-scale farmers in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, and The Bahamas.

It said the “Increasing Access to Climate-Smart Agriculture in the Caribbean Through INMED Aquaponics® Project,” will build the capacity of aquaponics enterprises and increase climate resilience in those countries by scaling INMED Aquaponics®.

“As economic opportunities for small-scale farmers decline amid significant climate change impacts, it is imperative to introduce viable, income-generating livelihood alternatives, particularly among our MSMEs” said Lisa Harding, the MSME coordinator at the CDB.

The bank said innovative solutions are especially needed, as regional economies face a variety of climate-driven events. Global disruptions in the supply chain are delaying the delivery of foodstuff and supplies small-scale farmers depend on to sustain their livelihoods. Through this initiative, the Bank is proactively building climate resilience with an adaptive agriculture model.

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It said that the current economic environment has created a renewed focus on support for agricultural enterprise to facilitate an inclusive and resilient recovery.

“An intensive, climate-smart food production technique, aquaponics combines aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (soilless crop production) in a closed symbiotic system, dramatically conserving water and space compared to conventional agriculture and yielding up to 10 times more abundant fresh produce plus fish year-round,” it added.

Founder and chief executive officer of INMED Partnerships for Children, Dr Linda Pfeiffer, said his organisation first introduced aquaponics to Jamaica in 2011 and has implemented two dozen systems throughout the island for schools, charitable groups, civic organisations, small farm cooperatives and communities to build food security, climate adaptation and income generation.

With key investments from CDB, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Lab and the Jamaica government of Jamaica, INMED Caribbean developed a comprehensive model with linkages to markets and financing and other value-chain support for smallholder farmers and emerging agri-entrepreneurs.

“The nations we are assessing for expansion are well-positioned to benefit from INMED’s training programme because they each have a need and appetite for aquaponics farming,” said INMED Chief Operating Officer Kristin Callahan.

INMED Caribbean is conducting research to identify stakeholders for the social enterprise training programme to jumpstart regional aquaponics expansion. The project will involve virtual and in-person training workshops for participants in the pilot country, focusing on underrepresented and low-resource populations.