Conclusions and Recommendations

With agriculture being a major contributor to the economies of the individual territories of the West Indies, monitoring the onset and evolution of agricultural drought plays a significant role. Agricultural drought monitoring in the region is largely carried out by agricultural ministries in each territory and relies on collating and monitoring both rainfall and agricultural production indices. Drought mitigation strategies generally encompass sensitizing agricultural producers to ongoing drought and teaching water retention strategies, providing drought assistance in the form of water, or providing agricultural necessities to rehabilitate the farmer after a devastating drought. The mitigation strategies are largely responsive rather than proactive.

Only a few regional entities such as the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (http://inaccs.com.bb/carimet/top.htm) and The Climate Studies Group Mona of the University of the West Indies (http:// www.mona.uwi.edu/physics/Research/csg/index.htm) are actively involved in such endeavors, and their research is in the early stages. Encouragement of such research efforts in addition to other research investigating links between climate and crop yields would enable the development of truly proactive drought monitoring and mitigation system for the West Indies. Though few West Indian territories possess such a plan, the Jamaican government provides a model for the structure and potential use of such a plan. Finally, we note that the potential exists for the use of crop models and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to assist in drought monitoring and management. Neither of these tools are currently employed on a significant scale in the territories of the West Indies.

acknowledgments Worthy Park data were obtained from the Sugar Research Institute, Mandeville, Jamaica, through A. Amarakoon of the physics department, University of the West Indies. We thank C. Thompson of the Ministry of Agriculture (Jamaica; http://www.moa.gov.jm) for many useful discussions.

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