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Minister of Agriculture says more investment required to ensure food security becomes reality in SKN

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The annual agriculture fair hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture returned this year and provided an opportunity for stakeholders in the sector to showcase their goods and earn revenue.

The two-day fair is also a chance for students to see the possibilities available in careers as farmers and agro-processors.

More people involved in the trade would help St. Kitts and Nevis reduce their dependence on imported goods that could be grown and produced in-country, bolstering our sustainability.

“Sustainability really deals with affordability, availability and accessibility to food. And as such, we have done a number of things; one, we have certainly played a part in ensuring that the necessary resources are available to our farmers. We have given out fencing wire, we have given out seeds and seedlings, and we have sought to improve their access to water as well. We have some water tanks that we will be distributing to those farmers who are having difficulty accessing water for their farms,” said the Minister with responsibility for Agriculture, the Hon. Alexis Jeffers in an interview at the fair.

The challenge of reliable water sources for the continued and consistent production flow persists, especially when the island enters its dry period. Farms in the Federation predominantly rely on rainwater as the water sources; the Ministry of Agriculture has procured over 100 water tanks to be distributed shortly, according to the Minister with responsibility for Agriculture, the Hon. Alexis Jeffers.

“As we get towards the dryer months, we’ll continue to see the level of production that we want to continue throughout the year because it’s a 12-month thing. We eat every day, [every week, and every month,] and we eat throughout the entire year, so food must be available.”

The Minister also shared that work continues in strengthening the genetics of livestock on the island with access to stronger/healthier breeds of animals.

The Minister said that more investment is required in order to make sustainability a reality, through strategic collaborations.

“We don’t want sustainability to just merely be a word, but we want it to be seen, felt and experienced to the point where everyone buys into our thinking. So agriculture on a whole, I believe we have had some good reviews over the last two years, and this is not to suggest that nothing much was happening prior to two years ago, but with the onset of COVID-19, it brought a new perspective to agriculture.”

Jeffers said the current supply chain issues and rising cost to import food should be cause for motivation to invest in our agricultural capabilities.

“Right now, we are experiencing tremendous difficulties in terms of the supply chain and the impact that has had in terms of food not being available. Many countries are now seeing about feeding themselves, so we now have to have that same type of thinking where we can feed ourselves in the event that this is a prolonged process whereby food is difficult to access and transportation as it is, being expensive, we are not getting what we should get. So all of these are wrapped in the whole thought of sustainability, resilience and food security.”

The work continues to build out the sector so the Federation can inevitably feed itself in the future.

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