By Kevon Browne
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): As the agriculture week of activities continues we take time to acknowledge the various ways in which we have taken advantage of agriculture.
In 1990 a Nevis program was piloted to provide an avenue for local farmers to offload produce in a mutually beneficial manner.
Prior to 1990, farmers harvested crops hoping to get them sold instead of producing them for a specific market.
However, after the completion of the Four Seasons Resort, an opportunity to revise the marketing Approach to farming in Nevis arose.
The Department of Agriculture, along with Allied Agencies developed a multifaceted approach with producers, research and extension officers in a closely monitored production and marketing system which developed into the “Nevis Model”.
After discussions with the management, the Four Season Resort agreed to receive produce from local farmers and that arrangement has stood the test of time.
According to an abstract written by the Minister of Environment and Cooperatives, Eric Evelyn, it was stated that “Over the years, the Nevis Model has evolved and A much wider range of products is now being provided. In addition, a number of animal products are also being provided.”
The Four Seasons Resort has 189 total rooms with 165 guest rooms, 24 suites, 50 private residence rentals, 80 residential units and employs approximately 700 persons (prior to COVID-19) which represents a significant market to support local persons in Agriculture.
Minister of Agriculture, Alexis Jeffers during his World Food Day remarks spoke about the plane for the Nevis model going forward.
“On Nevis, we would have piloted a system in the 1990s that was termed the Nevis model. This received regional attention. That system targeted The Four Seasons Resort Nevis to ensure a sustained supply of local fruits and vegetables. Our goal going forward is to reintroduce this system but it will be expanded to include all of our hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets here on Nevis.”
He later admitted that the ministry has work to do in supporting the sector to embrace technology and efficient business practices. Highlighting that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, smallholder farmers need greater access to finance, training, innovation, and technology to improve their livelihoods. As they improve their livelihoods they also improve productivity.
Jeffers later went on to highlight the acknowledgment of food wastage and the agro-processing plant developed with the aid of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) at Prospect, Nevis, to ensure there are value-added products available for the items that cannot be consumed within the fresh stages later expressing other measure made in Nevis to help elevate the agricultural sector.
“Additionally, we have under construction at Prospect a 6 room walk-in refrigerator that we envision will expand the lifespan of fresh produce here on the island. This is slated to be commissioned in November.
We have also repaired in the last two months a walk-in refrigerator in New River, for farmers in the area. This was in a state of disrepair, and our quest for food security necessitated this large investment.”