After the hurricanes – building resilience in the eyes of the storms
While hurricane Irma was devastating many areas of the Caribbean I was in a room with many agriculture experts from Central America and the Caribbean to talk about another aspect that did not get big attention in the news: the effect of hurricanes on farmers and fishermen.
I had brought with me a stack of freshly published data on the forces that endanger the livelihood of many. After all one in three lives in the countryside and one in ten depends on farming to make a living.
In one of the pictures of the publication you see the hurricane tracks we have on record in our tools. There is no area spared in the region. The hurricanes came in the past and science predicts we will see even more and potentially also more intense hurricanes in the future.
That means more torrential rainfalls to sweep away fields, more strong wind to destroy plantations, more storm surges putting everything under water close to the coast. In summary more threats to farmers.
We saw this future already in the pictures while we were in our conference room in Mexico. So what do we need to do?
Preparation is key. We must adapt the way we live and farm to the world of tomorrow. But how do we find out what to do? And if we have a long list of actions but limited amounts of money, how do we prioritize?
For this there are solutions today. One is called "Economics of Climate Adaption" a tool box for all stakeholders to identify what can be done and afterwards also knowing, which actions achieve the biggest effect for the money spend.
Once we prepared we can also look, at how to bounce back quickly, if a disaster strikes. Even with the best preparation, farmers will face the problems of have less or even no harvest. So what do they live from and how do they find the capital to plant for the next season?
In many developed markets this is not a big question. Farmers have insurance which cover their losses so they can continue farming. And insurance is not only a means to keep them in business, it also gives banks the peace of mind, to lend to farmers because even if a harvest is lost they can pay back their loans.
Concepts how this can be done are plentiful around the world but not many have been tested yet in Central America and the Caribbean. We should start now to do it because agriculture will grow with insurance, generating more jobs, more income – in short it make lives better for many in the region.
Category: Food security