The important and inseparable link between the water, energy and food sectors was a key message at the recent Sensitization Talk on Renewable Energy in Agriculture, held on 28 November in commemoration of The Caribbean Community (CARICOM)’s Energy Month.
The event, hosted in collaboration with ‘Addressing the Water-Energy Nexus in Agriculture’ (WEF) sub-project of the Mexico-CARICOM-FAO Initiative “Cooperation for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in the Caribbean”, or Resilient Caribbean Initiative in short, and Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of Public Utilities, Civil Aviation and Energy focused on raising awareness on sustainable energy through the theme “Energy Consumption and encouraged Energy Saving Actions”.
Funded by the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 14 CARICOM countries, the Resilient Caribbean Initiative supports Small Island Developing States (SIDS) using an integrated Water-Energy-Food nexus approach in Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
This approach is particularly useful for SIDS like Antigua and Barbuda as it seeks to build social, economic and climate resilience. As the effects of climate change become more evident with sea levels rising and rainfall patterns changing, freshwater availability and quality is decreasing while the frequency and severity of droughts increases. This, coupled with inefficiencies in the use of water, particularly affects agricultural production, which is in strong competition with other sectors for water resources.
FAO National Project Coordinator for the WEF Sub-project and featured speaker, Mali Barnes emphasized the benefits of improving the efficiency of water resources to increase agricultural productivity, sharing how the project is using technological innovations, such as solar-powered (micro) irrigation systems to improve water efficiency and management, and access to clean, climate-smart energy to increase agricultural water productivity.
The sub-project is also supporting twenty farmers in Antigua and Barbuda with the provision of climate-smart technologies like those mentioned.
The talk provided an opportunity for participants, which included farmers, extension officers, representatives from the Department of the Environment and other key stakeholders to learn about the usefulness of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus approach, which highlights the interdependence and synergies between the water, energy, food security and natural resource sectors and its practical applications for Antigua and Barbuda.
Other speakers included Energy Officer at the Ministry of Energy, Ita Jah Simmons, and Owner of OWIA Solutions, and solar photovoltaics installer, Daryl Jackson. District Officer from the Extension Division and participant, Victor Wade, shared, “Considering the conditions Antigua and Barbuda is facing, being one of the driest countries in CARICOM and now coming out of a severe drought, the Water-Energy Nexus in Agriculture sub-project is very timely. This project combines innovations in climate smart technology to promote water sustainability, food security and renewable energy in agriculture. These are all critical areas for resilience building, we are grateful for FAO’s support through this project.”
In promoting climate resilience and awareness of climate-smart technologies in agriculture, the WEF sub-project is commencing additional capacity-building activities in early 2023, which will seek to train farmers and extension officers in the various concepts and practical approaches behind climate resilient and sustainable agriculture.