Although agriculture does not have a huge impact on Barbados's GDP, the agricultural sector contributes 4%, with the majority consisting of the sugarcane crop. Historically, sugarcane has been the main provider in foreign exchange before the boom of the tourism industry, but has now faltered. Sugar production in the agriculture sector has declined from 20% in the 1965 to 2.6% in 2000. Land degradation is the leading cause of this decline, as residential houses, hotels and recreational sports such as golf courses were developed during this period and consequently caused the loss of precious agricultural farming lands, leading to higher levels of flooding and surface runoff. Barbados has seen an increase in atmospheric temperatures which then influences soil temperatures and affects plant growth and development. This increase has contributed to the decline in production of commercial crops. Changes in the frequency of rainfall as a result of climate change, with dry spells becoming increasingly common, will have a detrimental effect on agricultural output in Barbados. The increase in frequency and length of dry spells severely impacts penetration of rainfall into Barbados’ limestone aquifer, and affects the sugar cane crop, as sucrose content is extremely sensitive to quantity and timing of rainfall during the plant’s life cycle. Projected impacts as a result of less rain and more frequent, intense droughts due to climate change include low crop yields, a reduction in genetic diversity, reduced feed for livestock, and an increase in the numbers and generation of pests.
This section provides insights into the climate change impacts on agricultural productivity indicators and the trends in agriculture related socio-economic indicators.