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Helping Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to Improve Soil and Water Management

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Learning more about using nuclear techniques to improve soil management at the IAEA Laboratories, Seibersdorf. (Photo: Joseph Adu-Gyamfi/IAEA)

Seven IAEA Member States, all small island developing States (SIDS), have met in Vienna from 14 to 25 May to learn more about using nuclear techniques to improve their soil management. The seven countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Mauritius, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago ­– sent twelve representatives in total to participate in a workshop on the Use of Nuclear Techniques in Nutrient and Water Management for SIDS, and to attend the first Coordination Meeting for a new interregional technical cooperation project[1] specifically targeted at SIDS.

Together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the workshop, which offered training on the use of nuclear techniques to measure sea water intrusion and salinity, and to improve soil fertility management, was held at both the IAEA Headquarters and at the Seibersdorf laboratories of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, as part of the new interregional project. This project aims to build relevant technical capacity in the three SIDS regions (Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific), and to foster the exchange of knowledge. Participants in a regional project for the Asia and the Pacific region, which aims to improve crop resilience in Pacific Islands through mutation breeding[2], also attended the opening session of the workshop.

Several regional organizations also attended the workshop, including the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) and the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI). Participants received hands-on training in applying nitrogen-15-based techniques to estimate biological nitrogen fixation by legumes, and nitrogen use efficiency in cereals. Training in nuclear-based soil management techniques to enhance micronutrient content in crops was also provided.  The workshop focused on sample preparation, data analysis, problem sets and interpretation, as it is expected that the SIDS will apply the nuclear techniques in their countries in 2018 and 2019 and present results and data at the next SIDS training course in 2020.

Joint session of the TC Workshop on the Use of Nuclear Techniques in Nutrient and Water Management for SIDS. (Photo: H. Pattison/IAEA)

Background

Small island developing States (SIDS) are low-lying coastal countries that share unique sustainable development challenges, including high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change (such as ocean acidification, rising sea levels, increased soil salinity, dwindling groundwater resources and lower crop productivity), weak human health infrastructures, small economies of scale and great distances between countries. The IAEA addresses the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and Sustainable Development Goals through its technical cooperation programme.

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[1] Interregional project INT0093 ‘Applying Nuclear Science and Technology in Small Island Developing States in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals and the SAMOA Pathway’

[2] RAS5079, 'Improving Crop Resilience to Climate Change through Mutation Breeding in Pacific Islands '

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