by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Women are integral players in the country’s sustainable development and should not be excluded from the conversation about the 25 by 2025 Agenda, which is geared towards reducing the food import bill.
In dialogue with other CARICOM officials, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Miguel Flemming, praised the Federation’s women in Agriculture and declared that efforts are being made locally to ensure gender equity within the sector.
“We are so comfortable giving women their roses without feeling any type of way. So that’s a good thing, but women are definitely important; and in St. Kitts and Nevis, we have recognised that women are more reliable. When you look at record-keeping and all those different types of things as it relates to farming, I can guarantee you can go to a woman, and she would have all things documented as opposed to some of the male farmers who don’t have anything to show… Women like to know how they are spending their money. They want to make sure that whatever they are into, that they’re really benefiting from it. So what we have done we have made a commitment that when we launch our greenhouse villages, that the ratio for distribution is going to be equal. So, if we’re distributing 50, 25 must go to women because we believe actually that a majority of the success would be because we have women involved in these initiatives.”
As it relates to the local agro-processing industry, women, in particular, have been adding value to farm produce by utilising agro-processing techniques. By extension, local women have developed their culinary inventions of juices, jams, jellies and snacks, from homemade delicacies to products for sale at various retail enterprises, some through the application of unique processing, customised packaging and labelling.
“When you look at the production and entrepreneurs and diversification basically into agro-processing, we can definitely depend on the women again to ensure that we have new products from the raw materials in agriculture. So, I think they are very important, and they add a lot of diversity to Agriculture. I believe we should continue to empower our women and ensure that they are involved in not just taking us to 2025, but 2025 and beyond.”
In St. Kitts and Nevis, Agriculture officials seek to raise awareness of the value of women in the sector with focus on skill improvement and access to financing. In May, two of the Federation’s businesswomen, Miss Wilma Hutchison and Miss Hydeia Tyson, graduated from the Global Green Growth Institute Greenpreneurs Incubator Program and won a sizable grant to assist them with their business ventures in food production.