NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS — In its quest to ensure a consistent supply of agricultural produce for consumers, the Department of Agriculture on Nevis presented 12 commercial farmers with a combined total of 105 trays of tomato and sweet pepper seedlings.
The donation which was one of the last activities for Agriculture Awareness Month 2022, was made at the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Propagation Unit at Prospect on May 31, 2022. It also included 24 sacks of fertilizer.
Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), who was on hand for the presentation said it is a part of the NIA’s expanding efforts to ensure food security on the island.
“Within the last two years we’ve intensified our efforts in terms of making seedlings and normal inputs that are required to plant and to produce here on the island of Nevis…
“You’ve heard the words food security and sustainability being mentioned all the time when we speak but most times the action is not there to back those words. We’ve changed that around in many regards in that we are now proving to you that we are willing to put our efforts behind this whole thrust of food security and sustainability here on the island of Nevis,” he said.
Minister Jeffers also expressed hope that the gesture would redound to availability at less cost to consumers and he appealed to the farmers to be mindful of that.
“We are presenting these seedlings this morning … and we are doing so with the hope that three things can happen in the near to long run, if I were to put it that way, in that we will have availability of tomatoes and peppers, access to these products as well and also, they should be affordable when it’s all said and done.
“So I want to impress upon our farmers to produce, yes, but also keep the consumers in mind in terms of ensuring they are passing on the savings that we are offering you to our consumers,” he said.
The farmers selected for the distribution are: Mr. Mike Browne; Mr. Lorne Hanley; Mr. Clive Hamilton; Mr. Kimale Love; Mr. Lestin Nicholas; Ms. Deslyn Sturge; Ms. Lauriel Smithen; Ms. Zhareyaa Morton; Ms. Merla Barzey; Mr. Dan Liburd, Mr. Dave Bedford; Mr. Daniel Arthurton and Mr. Glenville Isles.
In response to the donation, farmer Mike Brown who spoke on behalf of his counterparts said the road ahead is a difficult one but he is optimistic that the programme would be successful.
“We are grateful as farmers to be able to receive donations from you in terms of seedlings for farmers for [Agriculture] Awareness Month.
“The road along is long. It is tough but as we forge ahead; we can do great things and expect great things for the future. I just want to say thank you everybody, and God is good. Thanks!” he said.
Mr. Randy Elliott, Director of the Department of Agriculture stated that the exercise will also serve as a planning tool for the department’s crop forecasting.
“The whole aim of this is for our farmers to get into the rhythm of forecasting, getting into the rhythm of coordination and working together to ensure that these commodities are always on the shelves here in Nevis at an affordable price for persons to be able to consume…
“So we just trust that the farmers take heed, land these, and ensure that they come to maximum yield” he said.
Mr. Elliott also thanked the selected farmers who he said willingly accepted to be a part of the programme. The Extension team who selected the farmers and the Plant Propagation Unit staff who worked tirelessly to meet the various deadlines were also commended for their efforts.
Mr. Huey Sargeant, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, who chaired the event, expressed hope that the project would be a successful one.
“I think 105 trees of peppers and tomatoes, we are looking for in the next 2 1/2 months, that we would not have to import any tomatoes or any sweet peppers on the island of Nevis because based on the calculations that would have been done by our Extension team, this meets the demand of what is consumed on a regular basis here on the island.
“So I’m trusting and hoping that we all work together and ensure that these seedlings become fruitful trees to produce the food that we need on the island of Nevis” he said.