Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute

Interview with Bruce Lauckner, Head of Strategic Alliances at Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)

What is the vision and mission of your organisation?

The vision of CARDI must understandably be influenced by the environment within which it operates and the mandate placed upon the institute to promote the economic well-being of the people who reside in that environment. In this regard, CARDI’s vision may be summarised to be the centre of excellence in the Caribbean for the provision and application of research and development in agriculture and rural enhancement.

The mission of CARDI is to contribute to the sustainable economic well being of the Caribbean people by the generation and transfer of appropriate technology through research and development within the agricultural value chain.

What have you found to be the benefits of being a GWP Partner?

We have been a GWP-C Partner since 2006. It is very important to recognise that agriculture needs to have a high priority in the distribution of water. Water is a very scarce resource in most of the Caribbean and usually tourism and manufacturing industries are given the highest priority for water. Recent events in global food supply and availability have brought home the importance of maintaining a strong agricultural sector. One of the main constraints to agricultural production in the Caribbean is water availability. Being a GWP partner has helped to inform other water users and water distributors that water for agriculture is a priority.

What is one challenge facing the management of water resources in your region?

Climate change is having a negative impact on the region as the climate may be getting dryer. At the same time extreme events such as hurricanes and floods are becoming more frequent. In other words, although the incidence of very heavy rain events is increasing, at all other times the climate is getting dryer. At present many Caribbean countries are experiencing their most severe dry season for a long time and water is being heavily rationed.

Are there any special projects or initiatives that you would like more widely known?

We have submitted a proposal to GWP to do an inventory of water resources for agriculture in the Caribbean but we have not yet heard the result of this submission.

During the current Medium Term Plan (2008-2010) and the Medium Term Plan to follow (2011-2013), CARDI has placed some emphasis on Protected Agriculture systems, or “greenhouses” as they are called in temperate countries. We have recently started a project funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) under an EU/ACP (European Union/Africa, Caribbean Pacific) programme. This project is aimed at increasing production under Protected Agriculture systems. These systems allow much more control over water supply to crops and have become popular among regional farmers for this reason.