THE CROPPER FOUNDATION

Table of Contents
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Review of Project Performance 1.1 Background 1.2 Major Project Activities 1.3 Meeting the Main Objective 1.4 Main Challenges Encountered Findings and Results 2.1 Review of Main Findings and Results 2.2 Making the Benefit Package Attractive 2.3 Dealing with Complexity 2.4 Making Environmental Concerns a Critical Component of Farming Practices 2.5 Working with Stakeholders 2.6 Building Institutional Capacity Implementing Sustainable Farming Practices Research Guide 3.1 Background 3.2 Sustainable Farming Practices 3.3 Sharing and Networking Among Actors 3.4 Policy: Process, Content and Practice Summary

List of Acronyms

ADB CANARI CARDI CBOs FAO GAP HNVI IDB-MIF IICA MFPLMA NAMDEVCO NGOs NRM PES SFPs SusTrust TCF TSFP TTABA UWI

Agricultural Development Bank Caribbean Natural Resources Institute Caribbean Agricultural Development Institute Community Based Organizations United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization Good Agricultural Practices High Nature Value Index Inter-American Development Bank Multilateral Investment Fund Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs National Agricultural Marketing and Development Cooperation Non-Governmental Organizations Natural Resource Management Payment for Ecosystem Services Sustainable Farming Practices Trust for Sustainable Livelihoods The Cropper Foundation Telefood Special Fund Trinidad and Tobago Agribusiness Association The University of the West Indies

Section 1

Review of Project Performance

1.1 Background
On 16 February, 2009, the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB- MIF) approved US$150,000 to fund a project of The Cropper Foundation (TCF) over a 30-month period. This project was developed with critical inputs from several collaborators, and was entitled “Implementation of Sustainable Farming Practices in Trinidad’s Northern Range Communities”. The Letter of Agreement between the IDB and The Cropper Foundation was signed on June 2nd 2009.

This project was a pilot exercise to promote alternative farming practices in two chosen watershed areas: Maracas/St. Joseph and Caura/Tacarigua. It was envisioned that the adoption of such farming practices would improve the returns to and sustainability of smallscale agriculture on the elevated slopes, while mitigating the negative impacts on the environment and affected downstream communities (see Box 1). One desired outcome of the project was for it to inspire farming communities to use strategies that would increase productivity, stabilize farmers’ incomes and contribute to maintaining the ecosystem services of the area.

Box 1: Agriculture in the Northern Range
Small-scale subsistence farming is becoming more prevalent on the slopes of Trinidad’s Northern Range, driven mainly by accelerated conversion of agricultural lands to housing (Northern Range Assessment, 2005). While tree crops would be recommended on such slopes, subsistence farmers favour short term crops. Farming short term crops on steep slopes – with little to no investment in soil conservation measures such as mulching and terracing – broadly results in excessive water runoff, and aggravation of downstream flooding and siltation of water courses. The intense pressure on the Northern Range from agriculture is specifically due to the escalation in the numbers and activities of subsistence farmers there. This leads to significant downstream consequences for the heavily populated lower-lying areas, including the capital city of Port of Spain and surrounding densely populated residential areas. These consequences include an increase in the frequency, severity and locations of flooding events; disruption in potable water production and distribution; and an overall decrease in quality of freshwater. While the option of relocating farmers in a land-scarce small island is not politically or socially attractive, unsustainable hillside agricultural practices and their impacts on the environment and downstream activities must be addressed. The aim of this project therefore is to mitigate the negative impacts of existing activities by piloting alternative farming practices. The new methods can assist in improving the returns and sustainability of agriculture for small farmers while alleviating environmental threats caused by current practices, and sustaining the natural resource base of the Northern Range. The lessons and experiences from this project will be used to inform policy and programmes in the government and non-government agencies that influence land use, environmental and water resource management, physical planning, agricultural practices and management of the Northern Range and other similar environments.

Box 2: Caura/ Tacarigua and Maracas/ St. Joseph watersheds
The Caura/Tacarigua and the Maracas/St. Joseph watersheds are the fourth and seventh largest by size in the Northern Range. The landscape of these two areas is similar, consisting of a number of forested hills and valleys at elevations between 250 to 500 feet above sea level. Both watersheds are well endowed with a network of water courses flowing into the Caura River in the Caura watershed and the Maracas/St. Joseph River in the neighboring watershed.

The TCF/IDB-MIF Agreement mandated two project administrative components: 1. A technical coordinator to serve as a focal point between and amongst project partners and to make critical inputs into the project’s technical design and execution. 2. A project steering committee to provide oversight and overall guidance and to monitor the progress of the project objectives. The project steering committee comprised individuals from: • The Cropper Foundation (TCF); • Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI); • United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); • Inter-American Institute for Corporation on Agriculture (IICA); • The Trust for Sustainable Livelihoods (Sustrust); • Ministry of Food Production, Lands and Marine Affairs; • The University of the West Indies, Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, St. Augustine Campus.

1.2 Major Project Activities
The project, called “EcoAgriCulture”, is built on principles of participation and information sharing, and thus the project activities were designed to facilitate collaborative learning and decision-making among stakeholders. One of the major project activities was the completion of a baseline survey of the socio-economic and farming conditions in the two study areas. The baseline survey provided information on agronomic practices, types of crops grown and major issues affecting farmers, which in many cases were lack of tenure and unpredictable economic returns from agriculture. The results of the baseline survey together with information gathered from interactive sessions with groups and individuals were used to inform the design of an intervention model for implementing sustainable farming practices (SFPs) in the two study areas. The intervention model was designed as a prerequisite to the development of intervention strategies for the target areas, and therefore considered community governance structures, community training and capacity development needs, research needs, and strategies for promoting SFPs. Sustainable Farm System
A farm can be considered sustainable if it does not irreparably diminish the capacity of the resource base (land) that supports it. Dr. Allan Williams EcoAgriCulture Technical Coordinator

A crucial step in the design of individual implementation strategies for farmers is the application of a high nature value farming index (HNVI) to farms. The HNVI provides a relative determination of how eco-friendly a farmer’s practices are based on four variables: local pest and disease pressure; agronomic practices; fertilizing practices; and management of crop growth. The HNVI scores were used as a means of further engaging farmers in the development of farming plans which incorporate sustainable farming practices. The plans are structured to provide details on overall farm layout, soil management, land preparation, crop management and environmental integrity. Farmers are encouraged to share these plans with their respective extension officers to facilitate greater support from the Ministry of Food Production. Farm plans were also used to identify material inputs that could be supplied to farmers by the project. Materials were made available through two grants provided by the FAO’s Telefood Fund. These inputs were not meant to act as substitutes for what was already in use, but to support the farmers’ transformation to more sustainable farming practices.

A team of technical persons worked closely with farmers to assist them in the actual implementation of sustainable farming practices, and to document the opportunities, barriers and challenges that farmers face during implementation. The key messages, findings and lessons learnt from the project were disseminated at a workshop held in January 2012, and video footage of the workshop is part of the project’s communication package. Additional communication tools include the project’s website (www.tcfsustainablefarming.weebly.com), bi-monthly update bulletins, information briefs specifically designed for key stakeholders, and a video presentation of sustainable farming practices in action in the Northern Range.

1.3 Meeting the Main Objective
The main objective of the EcoAgriCulture Project was to develop a community-based model for sustainable hillside farming that could deliver greater economic gain to small-scale hillside farmers, while alleviating the environmental threats caused by current practices and sustaining the natural resource base of the Northern Range. 1 Specifically the project aimed to: 1. Pilot a replicable model for protecting the ecosystem and alleviating negative downstream impacts within watershed communities through the introduction and adoption of sustainable agricultural practices by small-scale farmers in the Northern Range. 2. Support the social and economic development of participating farmers and their communities through the implementation of these alternative farming practices. 3. Communicate the approach and assist in the scaling up and replication of this model. This objective was quantitatively represented as “20% or more of farmers in the two farming communities implementing sustainable farming practices.”
1. IADB Project Document, Plan of Operations – TT-M1017

We are proud to report that through the interventions by the EcoAgriCulture Project, 56% of the identified farmers in the Caura/Tacarigua area, and 67% of the identified farmers in the Maracas/ St. Joseph area are implementing sustainable farming practices. The success of the EcoAgriCulture project was largely dependent on the buy-in and sustained participation of farmers in the Maracas/St. Joseph and Caura Valleys. As such, the model for sustainable hillside farming is largely based on the approaches used for raising the interest of farmers in the initiative, translating the benefits of implementing sustainable farming practices, and securing and sustaining farmer participation in the initiative. Enabling factors included: • That farmers in the target areas were aware of their responsibility within the High Nature Value landscape of the Northern Range and welcomed the initiative. • There were many institutions to support the initiative. • The approach to promoting the adopting of eco-friendly farming practices was welcomed by the MFPLMA Extension Service officers for the two areas.

The overall approach used to secure farmer participation is described in Section 2 of this report. From a project implementation view, it is crucial to note that the process of selection of participating farmers for the project, which included raising interest and securing buy-in among farmers, accounted for three quarters of the duration of the project (18 months), which left just about 6 months for actual implementation of the sustainable farming practices including monitoring the use and impact of the practices. Immediately, this suggests that initiatives such as this need a longer term project cycle, or that initiatives need to be dovetailed so that a first project can focus on raising interest, as well as securing buy-in and participation. A follow-up project can include actual implementation of practices, and monitoring of the opportunities, barriers and challenges relating to the implementation process. In the research guide document (included as section 3), we discuss the need for case studies to provide hands-on information on the implementation of SFPs; the best case studies are likely to be based on the experiences of long-term projects. Indeed, one of the challenges that we faced in securing the buyin of farmers for the project, was the view of farmers that projects which aim to build capacity among farmers or communities, are often too short to have any real impact in terms of developing capacity. The experiences of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) on building capacity in communities support this view, and that long-term support (five to ten years) is an enabling factor for building capacity in communities 2 . The research guide also addresses the need to have more partnerships rather than projects, as partnerships have a greater ability to increase capacity of communities, and in that way may provide a greater guarantee of sustainability of the initiative. One of the successes of the project was the approach for communication. Throughout the project, the technical team adopted an approach that was more in line with sharing of information (a two-way process), rather than delivering information (a one-way process) . The understanding of each farmer’s situation influenced the method of intervention for the implementation of SFPs as there was an overarching understanding of the need for flexibility and adaptability on our part in dealing with the farmers.
2. Caribbean Natural Resource Institute (CANARI) (2010). “Community Participation in Natural Resource Management: Lessons from Caribbean Small Island States”. CANARI Issue Paper No. 1.

1.4 Main Challenges Encountered
The project was not without its share of challenges. Identifying all of the farmers in the target areas was a challenge for a number of reasons including: 1. Farmers had farms in the area but did not live in the area, so locating them was difficult. 2. Farming is a part-time livelihood for some persons in the target areas, and as a result not all people who farm identify themselves as farmers. 3. Mismatch between the list of farmers identified by the farmers’ organizations and by the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs. The Baseline Assessment exercise had to be extended by two months, due to delays caused by extenuating circumstances associated with an unusually severe dry season, widespread forest fires, and National Elections in 2010. Adding to the delay of the project execution was the extension of the Design of Project Intervention by six months which was needed to adequately capture information that built on the baseline assessment, and the need to further engage and interact with farmers more intensively than anticipated.

Review of findings and results A review of the main findings and results of the EcoAgriCulture Project from the perspective of the technical coordinator are presented in Section 2. The review focuses on the operational framework for the project, the general approach of this framework, and the process of intervention for implementation of sustainable farming practices. The review is supported by reports from the technical team; these reports can be accessed on the EcoAgriCulture Project website. Implementing sustainable farming practices research guide A guide for addressing some research issues and needs for implementing sustainable farming practices is presented as Section 3. The guide was produced to assist farming communities and the stakeholders that support farming communities in addressing a number of key issues related to the adoption and implementation of good farming practices in Trinidad. This work is based primarily on the experiences from the EcoAgriCulture project and those of its project partners.

Section 2

Findings and Results

2.1 Review of the Main Findings and Results
A review of the main findings and results of the EcoAgriCulture Project is presented from the point of view of the technical coordinator. A wide range of issues arose from our approach of seeking to establish sustainable farming practices within a landscape environment. Some of them were beyond the scope of the project such as: • When does landscape management become effective watershed management? The issue of land degradation is fundamental to watershed management and requires a capacity to act on a scale that transcends individual farmer’s land use practices in the watershed area. Where livelihood depends as much on the resource base as does the resource base on the intensity of the pursuit of livelihood, how does one treat with entitlement rights, rights of usufruct 3 and private and public sector responsibilities? In a low-output agricultural production system, how does one resolve the tension between rational economic practices (cost effective) and rational ecological practices (resilience based) on the farm?

The more critical issues dealt with encouraging participation in the project, dealing with the complexity of small-scale farming, making environmental concerns an important component of hillside farming, working with stakeholders, and building a capacity to deliver goods and services.

2.2 Making the Benefit Package Attractive
We recognized that we were dealing with a relatively mature farming population that had, over the years, developed systems of production which they perceived to be working for them in spite of the conditions reflected in our choice criteria. The issue here was that while we may view these criteria as serious impediments to implementing environmental sustainability, they were obviously not insurmountable problems to earning an income from farming in these areas.

3. Usufruct rights allow a person to use and derive profit or benefit from property that either belongs to another person or which is under common ownership once that use does not destroy the substance of the property.

Of more importance to us, therefore, was our expression of the “benefit package” of the project. In a survey of Farmer Participation we presented five (5) potential benefits from participating in this project: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Receiving new information on better farming practices free of charge. Allowing others to learn from your experiences. Learning to manage your farm and the environment around you. Learning techniques on reducing farm input costs and increasing productivity. Being able to try new technologies on your farm.

The results of the survey indicated that 83.3% of the farmers interviewed in Maracas/St. Joseph and 69% of farmers interviewed in Caura showed a keen interest in participating in the project 4. On our part, we did our best to package these benefits in a manner that increased their attractiveness to the interested farmers by: • Increasing the flow of farming information that supports their production pattern. • Providing new input technologies for trial application. • Encouraging the establishment of demonstration plots. • Introducing cost reduction methods. • Supporting transition from necessity farming (subsistence) to opportunity farming (entrepreneurial). • Pointing to market opportunities (TTABA). A critical part of this approach was the support of the FAO TeleFood Special Fund (TSFP) which helped finance a limited number of farm inputs to farmers in both valleys. This increased the value of the benefit package to farmers.

2. 3 Dealing with Complexity
Strategies are only meaningful if they make sense in an obviously complex and complicated world. The two systems that the project was seeking to impact were themselves representative of very complex situations. The first was small-scale farming which is complex in respect of the factors that influence decision making within that system. This is further complicated when livelihoods depend directly on farming decisions. The second was the complexity of the natural resource environment of the Northern Range and how different activities are continuously changing this landscape. Our early survey had shown the diversity in the farming practices that we would face and our own preparations equipped us with sufficient information to identify activities considered to be critical to sustainable up-stream farming practices, to analyze different scenarios, take note of performance indicators for different systems and to form the basis for supporting a different set of decisions by farmers in the area.

4. The Cropper Foundation (2011). “Report on Supporting the Selection of Participating Farmers in the Watershed Areas of Maracas /St. Joseph and Caura Tacarigua Valleys.” [Online]. Available at http://tcfsustainablefarming.weebly.com/uploads/6/4/1/1/6411375/selection_of_farmers.pdf

The decision making process on such small farms, however, was much more difficult to identify. They were influenced by current circumstances (dry season/wet season), cultural factors, inspired leadership, believable information, gut feelings and other factors now known to us at all times. The operating factor, however, appeared to be their perceptions of the impact and results from farm decisions. Our challenge was to negotiate new perceptions or at best a common agreement with the farmer as to the values and assumptions underlying the imperative to change farming practices and land use patterns in the valley. As our recommendations for each farm will show, what we did was to spot patterns within this complexity and intervened to structure these patterns in favour of sustainability within the environment, without directly confronting contrary behaviour 5. The second complexity was to be found in the original purpose of the project. Implementing sustainable farming practices on a landscape level is an attempt to intervene in the management of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals, with a particular focus on how such management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations. We were seeking to intervene in managing the way in which the farmers in these two valleys interacted with the natural landscape. That falls within the ambit of management of Natural Resource System. Natural Resource Management (NRM) systems are by definition dynamic systems. They result from decision makers continuously striving to adapt their responses to new information, demographic, economic, social and cultural changes. In the Northern Range we deal with an existing NRM system which continues to reveal the effects of: • Human necessity for survival and/or human urge for opportunity. • Domestication of portions of the natural environment. • Creation of natural environmental hazards precipitated by human action (flood, water quality). • Progressive land degradation from human pressure. Our approach was to project the idea that there were two attractive and feasible prospects of better land management within the emerging order of the natural resource system: • Efficiency: that there is a capacity to generate better results with acceptable levels of effort at the individual farm level. • Sustainability: that there is an opportunity to maintain the flow of ecosystem benefits through time and space.

2.4 Making Environmental Concerns a Critical Component of Farming Practices
To make environmental conservation a farm-concern, we needed to create and test a mechanism that would weave these landscape/environmental concerns into the farmers’ assessment of personal risks, production security and perceived threats. The High Nature Value Index (HNV Index) provided the foundation to do precisely that. First, the index promoted the idea that the area in which we were operating was an area of “High Nature Value” and as such deserved special attention. Second, the Index asked each farmer eight (8) questions relating to their farm location, their land use and crop management practices and the type of inputs used. Finally the HNV Index calculated a score which told each farmer how eco-friendly his farming practices truly were. What actually happened, in most instances, was that farmers who considered themselves successful in using “modern (chemical-based) farming technologies” found that the HNV Index had recalibrated their apparent success as low-scoring initiatives of resource appropriators in the environment. This established the framework for introducing corrective measures, based on cultural practices that have been shown to have the capability of fully managing both farmland and natural resources.
5. This is the source of the challenge portrayed by Dr. Shango Alamu, when he pleaded in our last Project Update Bulletin (October 2011) that “Ecological crop management must not be seen as an option. It must be adopted as the central philosophy guiding agricultural development.”

The scoring of the Index is important because it gave more points to practices that defined the farmer as a “resource-sustainer” rather than a “resource appropriator” in the HNV environment. Thus, the farmer’s score would be higher if he or she: • Exploited the full range of microenvironments (which differ in soil, water, temperature, altitude, slope, fertility, etc.) within the farm. • Maintained closed cycles of materials and wastes through effective recycling practices. • Relied on a complexity of biological interdependencies, resulting in some degree of biological pest and weed suppression. • Relied on local resources plus human and animal energy, thereby using lower levels of commercial input technology. The most pertinent observation on the use of the HNV Index was made by Dr. Shango Alamu in his Report of Activities: The objective of the exercise was to share with the farmers their High Nature Value (HNV) indices and to give some explanation of their scores, to set the stage for the distribution of information on ecologically friendly farming practices and to be appraised of their current status of production and projections for the rest of this production cycle. It was also intended to introduce some eco-friendly strategies they may not have been familiar with for possible introduction into their programs. Based on previous interactions on the project most of the farmers had a good understanding of the HNV concept and were willing to make the necessary transformation to improve their scores. In this regard they welcomed the opportunity to receive information on improving their farming practices. Their status of production varied from holdings still in abandonment, through lands now being prepared, to fully operational projects. Some farmers are engaged in conservation agriculture especially as regards soil conservation. However the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides and mineral fertilizers is still very popular. Farmers shared with the consultant their major concerns in making the transition - particularly how the changes would impact on farm productivity and the availability of an alternate suite of inputs. However, farmers were willing to experiment, even to make changes to their existing farm plans as appropriate information became available6.
6. Report of Activities, Executive Summary, Dr. Shango Alamu, 8 September 2011.

2.5 Working with Stakeholders
The First Stakeholders’ Workshop comprised 32 participants: 26 farmers and 6 special guests. While this turnout represented our initial contact with farmers in the two valleys, the participants’ position was that the stakeholders represented a wider body. The workshop participants acknowledged a wider “community of actors” in their landscape. For operational purposes we categorized these constituents as follows: • • • Dependent group with claims: A potential to convert a farming practice into a tradition. Concerned group with knowledge (traditional and modern) and useful skills. Impacting groups prone towards mobilization for collective action on the basis of consensus or mutually beneficial interests. Affected groups with capacity (institutions, businesses and local governance) to address issues of landscape management. Groups with experience in similar circumstances who might be willing to invest human and resource input.

Working together with such a broad band of stakeholders required, among other things: • • • • Creating shared focus; Information generation and sharing; Creating partnerships and collaborative efforts; Facilitating demonstration sites.

The project sought to create a shared focus through the HNV Index and to generate and share information from sources that have addressed these issues. The significance of creating and introducing an indexation of farming practices is that it allowed us to set the stage to go beyond the level of simple input substitution. The follow-up stage should include identifying the means by which farmers can scale up their enterprises to more economically efficient levels in an environmentally sound manner. This would involve promoting the proliferation of more appropriate farming systems such as: • • • Farming systems with a high proportion of semi-natural vegetation; Farming systems dominated by a mosaic of semi-natural and cultivated land and small-scale features; Farming systems with proven resilience to possible changes brought about by climatic, vegetational and other more global changes.

2.6 Building Institutional Capacity
We recognized the significant levels of community mobilization that existed in both valleys before the advent of this project. The challenge however lay in building a capacity to deliver change through inputs, outputs and services. Delivering goods and services in the agricultural sector has always been associated with the development of a package of incentives and freeing up of investment capital to encourage the transition to commercial agricultural. But as the Intervention Model Report argued, this would require the mobilization of a network of stakeholders beyond the capacity of this project. The Report 7 suggested a network consisting of: • • • • • • • • • Research personnel Policy framers Technical back stoppers Input suppliers Funding institutions Training providers (not only experts but including “inperts”) Farmers/farmers’ organizations Community governance structures Consumers

The project gave some glimpses into some issues that have to be addressed by a pro-active research agenda to achieve this, such as: • Coordinating public and private actions (monitoring, regulations, restoration, remedial action, etc) especially in a HNV environment; • Identifying the availability and suitability of more profitable, sustainable and/or more environmentally adaptable crops; • Modifying high input to low input agriculture; • Changing crop mixes to suit environmental objectives; • Land preparation techniques with emphasis on soil conservation; • Shared creativity and learning through exposure, experimentation and iterative reflection.
7. Report of Activities, Executive Summary, Dr. Shango Alamu, 8 September 2011.

Section 3

Implementing Sustainable Farming Practices:
a Research Guide

3.1 Background
The research guide has been produced by The Cropper Foundation to assist farming communities and the stakeholders who support farming communities to address a number of key issues related to the adoption and implementation of good farming practices in Trinidad. This work is based primarily on the experiences from the EcoAgriCulture project and its Project Partners 8, and, as such, the issues outlined and discussed are by no means exhaustive. The focus of the EcoAgriCulture project was on implementing and adopting sustainable farming practices at the small-scale (< 10ha) and community level, and this document maintains that focus. However, the project partners are aware of the various drivers that impact agriculture at the local and national levels that are not included in this document.

3.2 Sustainable Farming Practices
The term “sustainable farming practices” (SFPs) is used in the EcoAgriCulture project to describe a set of farming practices that address: 1. Economic sustainability While sustainability suggests a long-term focus, the short-term focus is equally and perhaps more important when considering livelihoods based on small-scale farming. Practices need to be economically beneficial to farmers. If they are not so in the short term, practices should be implemented in a manner that does not introduce high economic risk to the farmer’s system. 2. Livelihood sustainability Livelihood opportunities in agriculture must be economically and socially attractive in order to keep persons involved in agriculture. This can be done through raising the national profile of agriculture, finding different ways to portray agriculture as a livelihood, and creating a strong support system for persons wanting to get involved in a career in farming. 3. Environmental sustainability Practices should reflect an awareness of the impact of farming on the surrounding environment, and one’s responsibility as part of that environment. The term therefore may be synonymous with a set of practices known as good farming practices (GAP) and, SFPs will certainly include, but will not be limited to, organic farming practices. Our interactions with farmers indicate their strong desire to better understand the economic impacts of the practices that are being promoted. It is generally well appreciated by farmers that in the long term SFPs are economically beneficial as they can help to improve soil conditions and biodiversity of the farm which can lead to reduced cost of inputs for improving soil quality, and managing pests and disease outbreaks (see Figure 3). While the project attempted to promote long-term thinking and planning with regard to farm management, the reality of many farming situations in the project sites and in Trinidad is that farming activities are planned within a short time frame, and therefore the short-term benefits of activities need to be addressed. Our project found that several farmers were concerned with how making a transition to more sustainable types of farming could affect farm productivity. Evidence-based case studies on the benefits and costs of adopting SFPs can provide information that is useful in helping farmers to make decisions regarding the use of SFPs. Case studies should also focus on how this has been done by some farmers, highlighting not only successes, but also challenges and obstacles. For example, at the second EcoAgriCulture Project workshop, one farmer discussed his experience in converting to organic farming. He highlighted that the transition of his farm was undertaken by converting between 10% and 20% of his farm per year to organic farming. Case studies can be developed through local experiences of farmers such as this one, or can use regional and international examples for information.
8. Project Partners: Trust for Sustainable Livelihoods; Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI); Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN (FAO); Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs; the University of the West Indies (UWI); Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)

Projects for engaging farmers in on-farm research can yield information for developing case studies on the impacts of farming practices. Farmers can contribute part of their land (as they do in the farmer field schools) to doing research on simple, practical first-steps that yield results (e.g. improved compost and bio-enhanced fertilizers; developing organic treatments for common pests, etc.) and linking these to farm production costs. However, a prerequisite for this to be successful is the availability and accessibility of technical support for farmers. There is an opportunity for partnerships here, where, for example, civil society and the private sector can collaborate with the extension services of the MFPLMA to provide technical support to farmers. The EcoAgriCulture project demonstrated such collaboration. An enabling factor here was open and transparent communication between the project team and the extension team of the MFPLMA. Further to this, partnerships between farmers and research institutions to investigate the impacts of farming practices can yield valuable results which address the impacts in the context of “real-world” issues in farming. See Box 2 for an example of such a partnership.

Source: “Organic Agriculture: Making the Transition” by Dr. Allan N. Williams. TTOAM Annual Conference, March 2009

Figure 3: Making Profits from High Nature Value Farming

Benefits can be described in a manner that is relevant to the farmer. For example, at one of the EcoAgriCulture stakeholder workshops, one farmer indicated that he wanted information on the cost in terms of labour for mulching (to reduce weed growth) verses the cost in labour for weeding a field. A case study on the short-term economic impacts of SFPs suggest that mulching for a 5ha plot may cost the equivalent of two days of labour per month, whereas weeding may cost the equivalent of 4 days of labour per month; the farmer’s cost savings from using mulching is therefore 2 days worth of labour. The livelihood sustainability aspect of agriculture should consider the changing variables that affect agriculture. One of these is climate change and variability. The adaptation and resilience of farming systems to climate and other environmental changes is an area that is still largely unexplored. However, projects that aim to address agriculture and climate change need to be cleverly devised as climate changes and variability are often viewed as distant (in time and space) concepts and may not be considered important by farmers. The research can be framed around investigating which crops are suitable for different localities, and the climate change aspect can look at how conditions may change, for example: soil moisture; evapotranspiration rates; and rainfall availability, amount, duration, and intensity, based on locality. Additionally, crop research should focus on which crops help to achieve key conservation objectives. This type of research can be done through long-term partnership projects involving farmers, and research institutions such as CARDI, UWI and the MFPLMA.

Box 2: Partnerships for Research
The Cropper Foundation, with the support of a PhD researcher from the UWI, is embarking on a project that follows on from the EcoAgriCulture Project, to work with stakeholders within the Maracas Valley watershed in the Northern Range (including the farmers and other key stakeholders active in the valley), to understand and quantify the range of ecosystem services that could be provided to the farmers and by extension to Trinidad and Tobago by the implementation of more sustainable hillside farming practices, towards the development of a Payment for Ecosystem Services project. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) policies compensate individuals or communities for undertaking actions that increase the provision of ecosystem services such as water purification, flood mitigation, or carbon sequestration. The development of PES models offers a new opportunity to examine the benefits – monetary and otherwise – which sustainable farming practices may offer. This type of data could be used to better inform decision-making processes related to land management, and could potentially have a significant transformative effect on land management approaches in Trinidad and Tobago.

3.3 Sharing and Networking among Actors
The suite of actors involved in agricultural production can be categorized according to those who are knowledge generators, knowledge transfer agents, and knowledge applicators (see Figure 4). Successful, long-term and country-wide adoption of SFPs requires effective communication and sharing among these actors. Relationships tend to be strong between and among farmers, and farmer-to-farmer interaction represents a major form of information transfer. Extension services can potentially form the linkages between research institutions and farmers helping to facilitate knowledge/information transfer and application. The scaling up from impacts at project sites to impacts at the national level in the use of SFPs requires that extension services play a key role in

the information transfer process. However, this is not often the case in practice locally. Instead, the knowledge generated by research intuitions and projects remain isolated, and in that way are of little or no use to farmers. In addressing this very crucial issue, one of the first exercises undertaken should be mapping of the linkages among actors, and identifying the reasons for weak or absent linkages. Understanding these reasons can help to guide the creation of appropriate partnership frameworks for helping to strengthen linkages and drive innovation in the agricultural sector (see Box 3).

Knowledge Generators
Farmers CARDI, FAO, UWI MFPLMA Research NGOs, CBOs Researchers

Knowledge Transfer Agents
Farmers MFPLMA Extension NGOs, CBOs Farmers Organisations

Knowledge Applicators
Farmers Extension Officers

Figure 4: Some actors involved in knowledge generation, transfer and application in Trinidad and Tobago

Box 3: Innovation in the Agricultural Sector – The High Nature Value Index
A major component of the intervention strategy for implementing sustainable farming practices in the two target watersheds was the creation and application of a High Nature Value (HNV) Farming index to farms in the Maracas/St. Joseph and Caura Valleys. The HNV Farming Index provides a relative determination of how ecologically-friendly a farm is, and would indicate the type of practices that might be adopted by the farmer to make the farm more ecologically friendly. A continuous assessment of the farm through this index will provide a comparative measure of the impact of the practices on the farming environment. The HNV Index provided the basis for a negotiated agreement among stakeholders on a common vision and goals for use of lands within a “High Nature Value Environment” for food production and food security. The HNV Index asks the farmer eight questions related to his practices and allocates points according to his/ her responses. The table below outlines how points are allocated for each question.
QUESTIONS
Farmer personal and confidential data Farm location Soil characteristics Crops grown (during the year) Local and pest disease pressure Typical agronomic practices used on your farm Fertilizing practices Managing crop growth

SCORE %
20 16 5 35 15 52 16 41 10% 8% 2.5% 17.5% 7.5% 26% 8% 20.5%

TOTAL

200

100

Sharing experiences on the adoption of sustainable farming practices is an effective way of promoting the use of SFPs. The IICA tries to do this by organizing overseas field trips for farmers, to show them practical demonstrations of SFPs in other islands around the Caribbean. These trips not only serve to display practices, but also provide the opportunities for farmers to talk amongst themselves and network with each other. Experiences indicate that information sharing is more effective when farmers speak directly to each other, than when information is routed through a third party. Also, farmers know what information they need and will ask the specific questions that they need answered. The actual demonstration of a farming method in practice in the context of other “real-world” issues is a powerful tool for promoting the use of good farming practices.

The EcoAgriCulture project facilitated sharing among farmers by facilitating exchange visits for farmers between the Caura and Maracas Valleys and also facilitating visits to farms outside of the valleys. Efforts such as these require planning and funding for transport; we believe options for facilitating these kinds of exchanges should be explored. One of the mechanisms for facilitating such exchanges is to form networks of farmers. There is reasonable hesitancy in suggesting that farmers form networks as this has been done at the local level through Farmers Organizations and Associations, and at the national level through the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago. Such networks are often fraught with political and race issues, governance issues, perceptions of corruption, and mistrust. Overwhelmingly, farmers networks have not shown sustainability. There is therefore need for research into the social and governance issues that (i) cause the breakdown of farmer networks in Trinidad and Tobago, and (ii) are requisites for the success of farmer networks; such research can draw on regional studies of successful farmers networks in other parts of the Caribbean. This research should also involve and include the persons who belong to farmers’ organizations, as they are best placed to say what their desires are for harmonization of farmers in a particular area.

3.4 Policy: process, content and practice
Policy is understood here as a general plan with an overall aim, comprising specific objectives and guided by a set of principles, and in the context of this work, policy at the local level is concerned with any kind of community plan or approach to agriculture. Local agricultural policies should, of course, dovetail and be aligned with national agricultural policies, but should not be postponed for lack of a national agricultural policy. A local agricultural policy should be farmer led, as it will ultimately reflect their goals and aspirations for farming. For example, within the Maracas Valley farming community, some farmers are thinking of developing a community-level farming policy, and are mobilizing support from other farmers within the Maracas Valley and in the neighboring Caura Valley, to come together to form a group whose farmers use good farming practices. Policy regulation and enforcement is a key concern, and research needs to answer in an upfront way how this will be done. It is likely that the local farmers’ organizations will be involved in championing and regulating the policy, and therefore research needs to be extended to investigate the capacity needs and other enabling factors of the farmers organizations for policy regulation and enforcement.

Benefits can be described in a manner that is relevant to the farmer. For example, at one of the EcoAgriCulture stakeholder workshops, one farmer indicated that he wanted information on the cost in terms of labour for mulching (to reduce weed growth) verses the cost in labour for weeding a field. A case study on the short-term economic impacts of SFPs suggest that mulching for a 5ha plot may cost the equivalent of two days of labour per month, whereas weeding may cost the equivalent of 4 days of labour per month; the farmer’s cost savings from using mulching is therefore 2 days worth of labour. The livelihood sustainability aspect of agriculture should consider the changing variables that affect agriculture. One of these is climate change and variability. The adaptation and resilience of farming systems to climate and other environmental changes is an area that is still largely unexplored. However, projects that aim to address agriculture and climate change need to be cleverly devised as climate changes and variability are often viewed as distant (in time and space) concepts and may not be considered important by farmers. The research can be framed around investigating which crops are suitable for different localities, and the climate change aspect can look at how conditions may change, for example: soil moisture; evapotranspiration rates; and rainfall availability, amount, duration, and intensity, based on locality. Additionally, crop research should focus on which crops help to achieve key conservation objectives. This type of research can be done through long-term partnership projects involving farmers, and research institutions such as CARDI, UWI and the MFPLMA.

Box 2: Partnerships for Research
The Cropper Foundation, with the support of a PhD researcher from the UWI, is embarking on a project that follows on from the EcoAgriCulture Project, to work with stakeholders within the Maracas Valley watershed in the Northern Range (including the farmers and other key stakeholders active in the valley), to understand and quantify the range of ecosystem services that could be provided to the farmers and by extension to Trinidad and Tobago by the implementation of more sustainable hillside farming practices, towards the development of a Payment for Ecosystem Services project. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) policies compensate individuals or communities for undertaking actions that increase the provision of ecosystem services such as water purification, flood mitigation, or carbon sequestration. The development of PES models offers a new opportunity to examine the benefits – monetary and otherwise – which sustainable farming practices may offer. This type of data could be used to better inform decision-making processes related to land management, and could potentially have a significant transformative effect on land management approaches in Trinidad and Tobago.

Box 4: Food Security and SFPs
Food security is arguably one of the most significant issues that the Caribbean region currently faces, and it is likely to remain a significant issue as we progress into the 21st century. Food security is about food availability, access, utilization and stability (FAO, 2006) 9. Within the Caribbean, the factors affecting food include: • • • • • • Declines in agricultural productivity since the 1970s; Declines in income from traditional crops due to falling global commodity prices (sugar and tropical beverages) and trade liberalization; High dependence on imported food (approximately US$3.5 billion spent annually on food imports in the Caribbean); Growing incidence of food related disease including increase in non-communicable diseases; Increasing incidence of pockets of poverty; Erosion or threatened loss of local food preferences.

Food insecurity adds to the inherent and current vulnerabilities that the Caribbean faces as small island states with open economies and high dependence on external trade for economic growth. Climate change and variability also adds to the region’s vulnerability as it will have a direct effect on agriculture. Increasing agricultural productivity in the context of this vulnerability is therefore a priority to help address food insecurity, and this is contingent on sustainable agricultural intensification – producing more food from the same amount of resources. Intensification can occur through improved use and management of agricultural biodiversity resources (such as seeds, pollination, beneficial fauna, etc), to achieve higher yields. The underpinning scientific and biological principles for improving soil health, managing pollination or controlling pest populations – incorporated in farming practices – show that yields can be increased through the sustainable management of ecosystems (FAO, 2011) 10. Crop protection during production and consumption is a critical aspect of intensification, and greater efforts need to be placed on mainstreaming integrated pest management (IPM) systems and use of organic pesticides. Intensification must however be undertaken in a manner that does not compromise the health and livelihoods of people, nor result in widespread environmental degradation. Agricultural practices must therefore be based on concepts of sustainable farming, supported by strong policies and sound scientific research.
9. FAO, 2006. Food Security. Available online ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/esa/policybriefs/pb_02.pdf 10. FAO, 2011. Save and Grow: A policymakers guide to the sustainable intensification of smallholder

Available online http://www.fao.org/ag/save-and-grow/index_en.html.

crop production.

Box 5: NAMDEVCO Certification
NAMDEVCO offers certification to farmers on the basis of farmers undertaking good agricultural practices and proper record keeping. Certification offers the farmer a number of benefits including: • • • Technical support from NAMDEVCO’s field officers Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) compliance Easier access to Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) loans

Summary

In an effort to increase the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the agricultural sector, significant effort needs to be put into the institutional framework that supports agriculture. Within Trinidad and Tobago it is recognized that there are several institutions involved in agriculture but communication and cooperation among institutions remain significant challenges. Consequently, initiatives lack the complementarity and sustainability necessary for influencing positive change in the sector. Within existing agricultural institutions, mechanisms for ensuring principles of good governance (accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness) are often lacking or are not implemented and put strains on cooperation within and between institutions. Inclusiveness of stakeholders through participatory processes in policy development should also be a focus. One way of doing this is to involve farmers to a greater extent in leading the necessary production research that needs to be undertaken. Having farmers define research gaps may help research and policy outcomes to have greater applicability and relevance. At the local level, farmers’ organizations within communities are often challenged by fragmentation of the farming population due to issues of distrust and perceptions of corruption among members. These issues are often rooted in race and political affiliations. Universal progress of the agricultural sector is hampered by this fragmentation, as access to resources are not enjoyed equally by all. A sample of researchable areas in governance is provided below: • • • • Is there a national institutional framework for agriculture? Creating/improving the national institutional framework for agriculture. Developing mechanisms to ensure participatory stakeholder inclusion in decision-making. Governance issues at the community level focusing on farmers’ organizations and village councils.

The responsibility for the adoption and implementation of SFPs will ultimately rest with the farmer; however, a strong system of technical and resource support that builds the capacity of the farmer, and is guided by a long-term strategic goal is the likely recipe for success in long-term adoption of SFPs. We recognize the importance of working with individual communities on a project basis as a means of driving change; however the importance of driving change at the policy level must be underscored, and this where we feel much of the transformative power lies. The conclusion of the EcoAgriCulture project should not indicate that efforts are no longer needed to support farming communities in transitioning to more sustainable farming approaches. In fact, the investment made by the Inter-American Development Bank and the EcoAgriCulture Project Partners will likely be of little value if the support to farming communities is terminated. We envision a long-term partnership with these communities and others through a three-pronged approach for implementation:
Continue working with farming communities in Maracas/St. Joseph and Caura/Tacarigua Watersheds

Adopting and Mainstreamin g Sustainable Farming Practices

Replicate the EcoAgriCulture approach in other watersheds of the Northern Range, building on lessons learnt from the pilot project Use results of the pilot, and leverage of partner institutions to influence public sector policy towards mainstreaming sustainable farming practices

The Cropper Foundation, 2012. The EcoAgriCulture Project: Report on Implementing Sustainable Farming Practices in Trinidad’s Northern Range Communities. The Cropper Foundation, Port of Spain, Trinidad. Cover photo: The Cropper Foundation Editing: Anu Lakhan Design and Layout: Christian Alexis Photos: The Cropper Foundation Information contained in this report may be quoted or reproduced without charge, provided the source is acknowledged. All images remain the sole property of their source and may not be used for any purpose without written permission of the source. For further information contact: The Cropper Foundation, Building 7, Fernandes Industrial Centre, Laventille, Trinidad. T: +1 868 626-2628 F: +1 868 626-2564 E: info@thecropperfoundation.org Acknowledgements The Cropper Foundation wishes to express their thanks to all of the participating farmers; the MFPLMA, FAO, IICA, UWI, CARDI, Trust for Sustainable Livelihoods, the project’s technical team, and the IDB-MIF for their inputs to the project. Financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank Multilateral Investment Fund and the FAO is gratefully acknowledged.

THE CROPPER FOUNDATION

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