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HomeNewsDrought resistant grasses for dry-season challenges

Drought resistant grasses for dry-season challenges

Finding solutions to insufficient feed during the dry season is the goal of the $79,300 (US)-Japan

Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (JCCCP) Carriacou Pasture Improvement Paddocking Project,

according to Senior Agricultural Officer Benson Patrice.

Through the JCCCP, the Veterinary and Livestock Division within the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite

Martinique Affairs and Local Government is looking at measures to curb the traditional practice of

allowing livestock to roam untethered in search of food during the dry season. This practice is a problem

for farmers whose gardens are ravaged by grazing animals from January to the beginning of June.

The (JCCCP) Carriacou Pasture Improvement Paddocking Project is now producing drought resistant

grasses for the establishment of plots.

“We are producing these grasses to give to farmers to establish plots for feeding of their animals, at no

cost to them,” Patrice told The Grenadian Voice.

The objectives of the project include increasing farmers’ resilience towards the impact of climate change

on feed supply; reducing the amount of feed concentrates farmers have to purchase or completely

eliminating the use of feed concentrates by providing a substitution; increasing pasture production,

productivity and carrying capacity through improved technology; and reducing impacts of overgrazing

and its secondary effects on livestock.

Chief Veterinary and Livestock Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Fisheries and

Cooperatives Dr Kimond Cummings explained to The Grenadian Voice that the dry season presents a

constant challenge to livestock farmers to keep their animals alive.

“As you know Carriacou doesn’t have any rivers or springs,” he noted so drinking water is from

desalinated sea water and water for domestic purposes comes from harvested rainwater stored in

cisterns and tanks.

Patrice revealed what he thinks is the crux of the matter. He said that almost every household on Carriacou and Petite Martinique own animals – both large and small ruminants – “but the majority of people who own animals do not own lands.”

To ease the dry-season pressure of finding enough forage for animals, he noted that during the colonial period “communal pastures” were established, where livestock farmers had the option of bringing their animals to those pastures to graze. However, he said that is no more as “most lands that were under communal pastures, no longer exist.”

Patrice said the animals would make their way to ponds and illegal feeding sources, which has become “a serious problem” as they would “enter people’s property to feed.”

In addition to the drought resistant grass, Dr Cummings stated that the production of hay can help reduce the impacts of the dry season too.

He said, “I believe that if Carriacou gets involved in producing hay, once the dry season hits and farmers have access to feed, what’s going to happen is that farmers would not have to let go the animals to go in search of food, they can buy feed … this I believe could curb the issue of animals just walking around the place and eating up people’s vegetables, and tree crops.”

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