by Dominique Lescott
St. Kitts Nevis (WINN): Nevis based Jahreem Encarnacion returned from service in the United States military to save his family property and has repurposed the land to cultivate mushrooms.
Encarnacion established Kinoko Farm and formed a partnership with Chef Michael Henville.
Encarnacion returned to St. Kitts after a 12-year term with the United States military. He resided in New York and decided to give up the fast-paced Big Apple life because “things are changing and I wanted a different pace…[and] to rescue the family plot” which had become abandoned,” he told WINN FM.
Encarnacion and his business partner Henville decided to launch after a conversation with another chef in Nevis who expressed interest in the prospect of acquiring locally sourced mushrooms, rather than those that have been imported.
“The mushroom industry globally is worth $36 billion and is predicted to increase to $46 billion USD in 2023”, said Encarnacion. Growing mushrooms is a viable option for a micro farmer with a small space. “We will start selling locally and expand to selling regionally and work on getting into the school’s lunch programme”, he said.
Not only are the locally grown mushrooms a sustainable group with several health benefits, but Encarnacion is also applying sustainable farming practices to Kinoko Farm. Encarnacion explained his process for composting and recycling, which results in limited waste from his crops. He uses cardboard which is then broken down into compost and can be sold to local farmers.
Encarnacion believes government should consider investing more in agriculture.“There’s a sparse investment in agriculture, I think it should be more” he lamented. He added, “More needs to be done on an island that is isolated in the middle of the Atlantic to use our soil and our resources more…meaning our agriculture”.
In the 2022 version of the Budget, Members of Parliament reacted to the Budget proposals, where agriculture is concerned Rt Hon Dr Denzel Douglas continued his call for more serious investment in the Federation’s food security. He said, “Investment in agriculture… I would have expressed my own concerns with regard to the relatively low level of agricultural production against the backdrop of there being, it would appear, a global food shortage and especially the difficulties that we’re having with international transportation in particular”.
Encarnacion forms part of the agricultural and green space in the Federation, alongside entrepreneurs such as Etsu Bradshaw-Caines who is using green technology to reduce the carbon footprint by transforming a centre for victims of domestic violence into a green living space. The centre uses its own vegetables to practice healthy eating habits for the residents whilst also making them available to the St. Kitts and Nevis community.