Friday, November 1, 2013

Farmers on Fiji reap fruits of risk management

Andy McElroy at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction: Fijian papaya farmers and exporters whose businesses were devastated by a 2012 cyclone are emerging from near bankruptcy with better protected livelihoods thanks to a stronger approach to disaster risk management.

Last December’s Cyclone Evan decimated crops and slashed papaya exports by almost 90 per cent prompting an industry-wide rethink on how such a catastrophic experience could be minimized in future.

As a result, beleaguered farmers and exporters are changing practices to address increasing climate extremes: production is spreading away from traditional crop heartlands; budgets increasingly factor in contingency for disasters; planting is on smaller blocks and a more regular basis; seed trees are selected to suit local conditions more; and bigger stocks of seed are in store to accelerate post-disaster recovery.

“The short of it is if you have been a papaya farmer in Fiji over the past four years you would not have made any money and, indeed, some farmers have gone under,” said Kyle Stice of the Fiji Papaya Project.

“Our analysis is that climate change is likely to impact agriculture by amplifying pressure of existing threats, primarily climate extremes: cyclones, flooding, and drought.”...

A farmer on Fiji shrouds a papaya plant against the sun. Photo from the UNISDR website. 

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