(Basseterre, St. Kitts): The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Delegation held its Accountability Seminar 2022 at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Thursday, 27th October.
During the seminar, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Marine Resources and Cooperatives St. Kitts, Miguel Flemming delivered remarks on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture et al, the Honourable Samal Duggins and used the opportunity to share his hopes of strengthening the partnership between IICA and the Ministry.
He said, “The government of St. Kitts-Nevis is on the verge of transforming Agriculture, as this is clear with the recently completed growth strategy from 2022-2031. It is safe to say that we can’t achieve this transformation alone, and we look forward to working with IICA and other allied institutions, farmers, fishers and cooperatives, public and private partners to get us there.”
Mr. Flemming made further remarks to highlight the impact of IICA’S presence in the federation and spoke of the new found realization of the agricultural sector’s importance during times of crisis.
“It is no secret that our food import bill is high, and with the recent COVID-19 challenges, everyone looked to Agriculture to be our savior. An assessment was done to see how long we would be able to survive with our current livestock, crop produce and fish…The government responded by creating a stimulus package which was somewhat unorganized but we saw an increase in production then, now we are back to normal. IICA stepped in and sponsored rabbits which were donated to households for security due to the proliferated manner of rabbits and the recent rabbit festival was a testimony of that support that we had at the St. Kitts Eco Park. We must no longer wait for things like these to happen but must always think about the worst case scenario.
A country in crisis will hold on to its food and when this happens we will suffer. The time is now for us to work together and address the underlying issues of Agriculture…St. Kitts and Nevis is ready to feed itself and ensure food and nutrition security for everybody. We can’t have a country where only the importing class makes money”, the Acting PS stated.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture on Nevis, Huey Sergeant also gave brief remarks that focused on IICA’s support to the nation’s food producers.
He said ” we are very grateful to our allied agencies in this case IICA their presence and tangible support are invaluable to our sector in kind contributions as well as efforts of capacity building for farmers, agro processors, other primary producers as well as staff at the departments. We are very grateful once again and we in turn must be responsible and accountable…this accountability exercise is integral in any work program as it offers the opportunity to reflect on our actions whether it be for learning or for success.”
Mr. Sergeant ended his presentation by insisting that we “let our farmers be our special interest”, noting that “when farmers fail, we all fall but when farmers win, we all rise.”
IICA Technical Specialist in St Kitts and Nevis, Ms. Sharon Jones, IICA Representative in the Eastern Caribbean States, Mr. Gregg C.E. Rawlins, farmers and other stakeholders were also present at the seminar.
As part of the agenda, the IICA Delegation used the opportunity to celebrate its 30th anniversary in St. Kitts and Nevis and pledged to continue providing unwavering support to the federation in efforts to transform the agricultural sector.
The forum wrapped up with stakeholder discussions which immediately followed the presentations.
Jeanelle Kelly, Quarantine Officer in the Department of Agriculture chaired the ceremony.