By Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources on Tuesday, March 08 hosted a forum for the Advancement of Women in Agriculture and Fisheries in commemoration of International Women’s Day.
The event was held at the Department of Agriculture Conference room, where outstanding women in the sector were recognized in various categories including, horticulture, fish farming, technical and administrative support, and market vending.
According to Mr. Ron Dublin-Collins, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources, the aim of the forum is to review the work planned for 2022, as the Ministry seeks to contribute to its vision to build, support, and sustain a vibrant agriculture community renowned for innovation, collaboration and with a focus on women and youth.
“We are supporting women in Agriculture and Fisheries and helping to remove the barriers that hinder their participation in this sector. The Ministry is providing the pathway for women to make their contribution to the sector as crop farmers, as processors, as fishers, livestock farmers, agro-processors, with the completion of the repairs to the agro-processing building. We will see much more in our support to our agro-processors who are mainly women.”
Collins said enabling women to have equal access to opportunities and services in the sector is not only a matter of justice, but it is also one of the most effective strategies for reforming and enhancing the sector.
Also speaking at the women’s forum was Minister with responsibility for Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Hon Alexis Jeffers, who shared the importance of women being a part of the sector.
“Women represent a crucial resource in agriculture and fisheries through their role as farmers, labourers, and entrepreneurs. Efforts by the Ministry to achieve our goals for agriculture development, economic growth, and food security will be strengthened and accelerated, as we build on the contribution that women make and also take steps to alleviate the constraints we face from time to time.”
Minister Jeffers acknowledged that women face obstacles in the sector. He said cultural barriers and traditions often block women from full and meaningful participation, which prevents them from securing the resources that they need to become more efficient and profitable.
The Minister disclosed that through the women’s empowerment or enhancement program, women will gain greater access to resources and training, as well as assistance in agricultural productivity.
The inaugural hosting of the Forum for Advancing Women in Agriculture and Fisheries was held in 2021, this being the second time the event was hosted.