NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS – Premier of Nevis, Hon. Mark Brantley, Leader of the Opposition of St. Kits and Nevis, is urging the federal government to vigorously pursue food security through the expansion of agriculture as means to mitigate the impact of a threatening global recession.
He made the fervent plea on December 15, 2022 during his response to the near billion-dollar 2023 Budget proposed by Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew, Minister of Finance for St. Kitts and Nevis the previous day.
“We are at risk of a global recession. In fact, if we accept that there is a looming threat of a global recession then it means therefore that this Budget ought to respond to that, and to say to the people of the nation in light of this looming threat this is what we propose to do.
“Let us look at food. It is a truism that we must all eat. A lot of things we can live without, food is not one of them, and so it is critical that we start to re-orient our economy to look at greater food security…I believe the very first thing that any nation has to do is to seek to wean itself as much as possible off the importation of food, because if we can’t feed ourselves then it means that we are immediately susceptible to control from outside.”
Stressing the need for a re-emphasis on agriculture as an additional revenue earner for the Federation, Hon. Brantley pointed out that the industry would also provide more opportunity for entrepreneurship and employment, especially for young persons. He said those in authority should move to cultivate a different mindset as it relates to the traditional perspective of working in the sector.
“I am not suggesting, unless I be misconstrued, that we go back to the days of riding donkeys and plowing land and people out in the land working, that was back breaking work; but I do believe that with technology that is now available to us- shade house technology in particular, hydroponics- there is a lot that we can do which allows us to farm in a smart way and therefore allows more people to get in, potentially using less of a footprint in terms of land because what you can produce using shade house or hydroponics technology you may need acres of land to do that.
“I feel that we now need to seek to start that conversation with our people, particularly our young people…and it needs to start on the corridors of power, the principles who run the country… This is, in my view, one of the responses that we now have to start to make to these exogenous issues that we cannot control. We need to seek to grow more and eat more locally and instill and inculcate in our people that there is value in agriculture, there’s value in food production and that our young people especially can be motivated.”
To this end, Premier Brantley suggested that the government provide financial resources to incentivize the thrust towards greater food security through the St. Kitts and Nevis Development Bank, a special vehicle, or an existing investment agency, “to say to young people we’re not just talking about agriculture, we are going to provide the necessary seed capital so that young people especially can get involved, those who have the vim, vigour and vitality. They have the ideas; they have the energy”.