Soil and water conservation practices to reduce soil erosion and enhance water conservation, St. Lucia
The island of Saint Lucia is a small island developing country in the Caribbean. The country’s development strategies try to balance economic development and envioronmenetal conservation. One of the key challenges for agriculture is land degradation as well as drought-like conditions in some parts of the island. Due to natural climate patterns in the Eastern Carribbean the island has an annual dry season usually lasting from January to April/May, with some annual variation. During the dry season water shortages regularly increase regularly and threaten cropping under rainfed conditions. Particularly in the hilly aeas of St Lucia with steep slopes, which are often used as farmlands, there is a strong need for systemtic conservation of water, and reduction of ing soil erosion. Integrated soil and water conservation practices are therefore key. The installation of an up hill water tank on a cemented platform, combined with roof water collection, controlled gravity irrigation, and the establishment of counter stone bunds, and mulching created a very successfull combination of farming practices to counteract exposure to drought and dry spells. It further helped to reduce water runoff and soil losses, while conserving soil moisture on the farm plot. The package was demonstrated under the an FAO project ‘Enhanced capacities for disaster risk management in agriculture, fisheries and forestry’ (TCP/SLT/3202), which was implemented for DRR in Agriculture in from 2009- to 2011. It demonstrated that, if managed well, sufficient water can be conserved during the rainy season to allow an additional cropping cycle in the dry season, thereby increasing income and contributing to people’s livelihoods.