NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (February 21, 2022) — Mr. Huey Sargeant, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, is describing his expectations of the performance of agriculture in 2022 as positive.
The agriculture official was at the time responding to an invited comment during a recent interview with the Department of Information.
“I am very positive about the outlook for agriculture. We have recently completed our Agenda 2022; a lot of things came into sharp focus and perspective and we literally have to take an intelligence approach to agriculture,” he said.
Mr. Sargeant noted that through the Department of Agriculture they are seeking to coordinate more with the farmers on Nevis.
“There is little or no coordination in terms of other farmers on the island so we are seeking to do a lot more in terms of coordinating what we do and what farmers do because if you have many persons doing many things in many different ways you cause confusion,” he said.
The agriculture official explained that they have been inspired from the knowledge of some of the presented at Agenda 2022, an annual forum hosted by the ministry to outline the plans and programmes for the year.
Mr. Sargeant pointed to the presentation made by Mr. Colin Dore who addressed the economic side of agriculture and its impact on the island’s economy.
According to Mr. Sargeant, Mr. Dore brought some things into sharp focus in the area of imports and the level of production, citing the example he used of small ruminant production.
“We would be importing lamb from Australia, yet we have farmers and we see goats and sheep running up and down. That lamb from Australia is five months, four months old but we have our farmers who have animals running up and down four and five years old, and you are telling me that lamb cannot be produced on Nevis? High quality? …
“Every day on Nevis you walk you see; you drive you see these animals and the abattoir manager would have said the more the animal walks the tougher the meat gets. Why are you raising animals if all you are doing is feeding them? So we have to do a lot more,” he said.
In relation to their approach to “targeting production,” Mr. Sargeant pointed to the presentation outlining marketing techniques made by Mr. Daniel Arthurton.
“From the Department of Agriculture, from the Larinson Parry Agricultural Depot we need to know what the customers want. A lot of the time we have the knowledge of what they want because they buy from us day in and day out.
“Once you collate that information, you are supposed to be able to transfer it to the farmers, to the estates that they want a specific type of tomato not just because we have the seeds, we plant it. So a lot more targeting is going to go in place so that we can improve the production of agriculture,” he said.
Mr. Sargeant also mentioned the presentation made by Mr. Keithley Amory who spoke on the production process.
Outside of the beneficial indicators from Agenda 2022 which they plan to utilise, the agriculture official also spoke on keeping the interest in agriculture through backyard gardening growing.
“Agriculture, because of the pandemic has had a lot of interest even at the back yard level. Everybody is interested in planting even if it is one ginger tree, and I don’t think we’re supposed to lose that interest and not take advantage of it, and once we coordinate properly, which we have started, I think we can really see agriculture take its rightful place in the Nevis economy.
“Agriculture actually should be a foundation of any economy, yes because it can stand by itself because it is the food production sector, and it supports every other sector in the economy,” he said.
Since Agenda 2022, the Ministry of Agriculture has begun conducting a land audit and mapping process which identifies government lands allocated to farming, in an effort to ensure that they are being used for the purpose intended.
Also, there is an ongoing baseline assessment study to ensure that production targets are in line with the needs and wants of consumers.