[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the genus Dioscorea, food yams, were introduced to Jamaica from Africa during the slave era and have remained a staple in local diets and national cuisine. Yam cultivation has also been an important economic activity providing employment for thousands of rural Jamaicans. Until the 1960s yams were grown for local use by subsistence growers for home consumption or by commercial growers for sale in local produce markets. Since then, however, yam has also grown to become an important export crop. With its value added potential virtually untouched, this crop possesses intriguing possibilities from the standpoint of food security and rural livelihoods in yam growing areas of Jamaica. At the same time there are concerns about the ecological and economic sustainability of yam farming under current conditions. In this paper we will analyze the sustainability of yam cultivation and consider concrete strategies for increasing the environmental sustainability and enhancing its contribution to food security.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent years, Jamaica has been seriously affected by a number of extreme meteorological events. The one discussed here, Hurricane Dean, passed along the south coast of the island in August 2007, damaging crops and disrupting livelihood activities for many small-scale farmers. This study is based on detailed ethnographic research in the southern coastal region of St. Elizabeth parish during the passage of Hurricane Dean, and explores the ways in which small farmers negotiate the stressors associated with hurricane events. The study employed a mix methods approach based on a survey of 282 farming households. The paper documents coping strategies employed by farmers in the immediate period of Hurricane Dean to reduce damage to their farming systems, and highlights the positive correlation between farmers’ perceptions of hurricanes and degree of damage to local farming systems. In addition, through an analysis of socio-economic and environmental data, the paper provides an understanding of the determinants of adaptive capacity and strategy among farmers in the area. The study indicated that despite high levels of vulnerability, farmers have achieved successful coping and adaptation at the farm level.