by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Local businessman Mr Duncan Big Lice Wattley says the agricultural sector in St.Kitts and Nevis needs improvement and measures must be implemented to address the food security concerns in the country.
“You see this agriculture thing, we’re going to have to do a whole remake, and when I say a whole remake, we’re going to have to find means and ways to help the farmers to mass produce; but at the same time, after they’ve mass produce, we must find markets; and we ought to really have the extension officers going out there to work with the farmers because soon we are going to become so dependent on the local farmers. Right now, we are.”
Speaking on Freedom FM’s Issues programme on Wednesday afternoon (October 12), Wattley said food security is becoming very important, considering the global crisis of low supply against increased demand, leading to the highest costs for goods to the consumer. Wattley said he is beginning to feel the effects of the global supply chain shortage in his restaurant and bar.
“I have a business. I have a restaurant. We buy stuff. Right now, there are no peppers;[neither] red, yellow, green or whatever, because one boat didn’t make it down from Miami because you know Miami had their disaster and so, we are seeing the warnings. There are signs that we need to up the ante here as to how we produce.”
Wattley is suggesting that the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Samal Duggins put together a team to organise a feasible plan to restructure the agriculture sector in the country.
“Samal is going to have to really put together a team. Let me tell you something about politics. You really need a team, it’s a team effort. There is no ‘I’ in this thing. You alone can’t do it. You have so many ministries. You are not an expert in everything. So he is going to have to really sit down and put a team together as to how we can approach. There are people out there who are very interested in farming. Just this afternoon, a guy was by me and said he is waiting because the Government promised some ‘x’ amount of acres for him to extend his livestock farming and so forth. So, there are people out there who are excited and want to contribute to the food security as we speak in the country. The Government must have a plan of action; because you cannot have people producing the same thing. You can’t have people competing. It should be a collective effort, but you still need a market, and you must be able to control your price, not [allow them to] carry up the price to what they want, if our people are going to benefit.”
Wattley suggested that the government should note what is being done in larger countries and implement similar measures in St.Kitts and Nevis. He said that’s a way of empowering the people and creating employment. He emphasized the need for mass production and diversification to help to raise the standard of living in St.Kitts and Nevis.