BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (IICA-SKN) — As part of Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Region, the IICA Delegation in St. Kitts and Nevis, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources, will be launching initiatives aimed at improving food security at the grassroots on the two islands.
“Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, IICA through the Director-General has given funding to St. Kitts and Nevis for two initiatives to assist them to recover from the pandemic,” said Ms. Sharon Jones, Technical Specialist, St. Kitts and Nevis IICA Delegation. “The Ministry of Agriculture and IICA Delegation have been engaged in dialogue and actions over several weeks to help to define the actions of the food security plan.”
The proposed initiatives will be launched next week as part of activities forming part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources’ World Food Day 2020 week of activities that will start on Saturday, October 9. They are a rabbit production project on the island of St. Kitts, and on Nevis, the initiative will be on backyard gardening.
“St. Kitts chose rabbit production because they were concerned about local animal protein and that householders who may be going through an economic problem would have access to an affordable local sourced proteins and hence rabbit production,” explained Ms. Jones.
The IICA Rabbit Rearing Project initiative will be launched on Tuesday, October 13 at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room, as part the World Food Day 2020 week of activities that will culminate on Saturday, October 17 with a health walk taking participants to the top of Brimstone Hill then to Sandy Point Market. World Food Day will be observed on Friday, October 16.
According to Ms. Jones, there are long term plans for the rabbit rearing project as the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources are thinking of having it as an industry where they want to encourage the production and consumption of rabbits on the island of St. Kitts.
The Rabbit Rearing Project has thirty-three participants and all will be given a pair of rabbits, and IICA will have a follow-up training thereafter. The ministry has assisted the participants with cages, but those who are already rearing rabbits are having the cages repaired.
“Nevis on the other hand because they are looking at the gender affairs and social development and the at-risk households, they chose backyard farming as the initiative they are more interested in,” observed Ms. Jones. “As a result, Nevis is doing an initiative in backyard gardening which IICA is assisting them on.”
The Nevis initiative will be launched on Wednesday, October 14, where all the ten participating households will be present. IICA will provide each household with a raised seedbed that will help to keep out predators, as householders have been losing crops, fruits and vegetables to animals especially monkeys and donkeys. Saying it is a collaborative effort which will continue for the benefit of the participants, the IICA official noted that the ministry will provide seeds to the householders.
“Those are the two initiatives and we will follow up the initiatives as the recipients develop their skills,” said the IICA Technical Specialist. “They will be training to assist and support them.”
Ms. Jones however noted that at the end of the project, IICA will still continue to assist the participants. She said: “The initiatives are strategically placed to assist as many people as possible and we will still interact with the participants because they want to develop the industry, and hence there will be other opportunities for intervention as they move along that pathway.”