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HomeNewsLocal NewsSKN launches 25 by 25 Agenda reigniting commitment by government to Agriculture

SKN launches 25 by 25 Agenda reigniting commitment by government to Agriculture


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has officially launched its 25 by 25 Agenda. 

What does 25 by 25 mean?

CARICOM set out its mandate in 2020 to reduce the region’s food import bill, currently at $6 billion, by 25% by 2025 to improve the region’s sustainability through Nutrition security. The Federation’s contribution is almost $200 million.

According to the Agriculture Minister, Hon. Samal Duggins, 10-15% of the food Kittitians and Nevisians consume is supplied locally. 

What are some of the concerns for making the agenda a reality?

  • The already high food import bill 
  • Climate change and its effect on temperature, weather phenomena, and water, all of which could make or break agricultural yield
  • Making space in the market for farmers, fishers and Agro-processors in the local, regional and international markets
  • Saturating the market with an overabundance of certain produce
  • Feral Animal Control (monkeys, pigs, donkeys) 
  • Labour
  • Buy-in from the masses and the private sector
  • Restructuring Agriculture as a viable and profitable section of the Private sector
  • Disgruntled and disenfranchised farmers, agro-processors and fishers

According to local farmers, the realism of achieving the regional reduction seems far-fetched given what they describe as the need for more buy-in and support from the government, especially a lack of partnership with the Ministries of International Trade and Consumer Affairs. 

Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration, Hon. Eric Evelyn, in remarks at the launch, said there has been too much talk and not enough action toward agriculture as a region.

“Committing to this 25 by 25 initiative can only grow our local entrepreneurs because of the fact that we need to produce more our local entrepreneurs must rise to the challenge. They must ensure the onus is on them to ensure that we here on St. Kitts and Nevis produce more which we have the capacity and the potential for. And so there are so many reasons why all of us must support this CARICOM 20 by 25 initiative. This initiative is not about the ministers; it’s not about the permanent secretaries; it’s not about the directors. It’s more about our stakeholders – [farmers, fishers, agro-processors]. I also want to encourage all of our partners to get on board because agriculture cannot do it on its own. Of course, the push must come from the Departments of Agriculture, but our stakeholders, all our partners, our financial institutions, you must get on board as well to support our local entrepreneurs – and so it has to be a concerted and coordinated effort where all of us must be on board.”

Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Hon. Samal Duggins, said he is committed to ensuring the 25% reduction the Federation plans to cut in food imports is circulated in the Federation – some $45-$50 million.

“If currently spend over $100 million, there is a market of over $100 million that I want to tap into, and I’m standing here today talking about CARICOM’s 25 by 2025 Agenda; our food [import] bill stands at $190 plus million -closer to $200 million -, and if we do a simple mathematical equation, we recognise that 25% of that is somewhere near $50 million. And the essence of what we are here discussing today is how we can share $50 million amongst [ourselves]. But, of course, that $50 million is not just cash in hand. It requires your work, your effort and your dedication. But ultimately, with that, there is a guarantee $50 million that’s been spent annually that should go and be shared amongst all of us. My job here as the Minister of Agriculture is to ensure that that $50 million is going to you. But how do we do this? We must ensure that our people have the competence.” 

Inconsistent produce supply is an issue that heavily impacts the country’s ability to secure nutrition for its people in the face of exogenous shocks. However, the Agriculture Minister believes it is possible with all parties operating with one purpose – food security.

“At this time, we had to take a different approach. We have to do things a little bit differently. We have to embrace innovation. We have to embrace the way forward. We have to harness the collective knowledge of our stakeholders on the ground, our stakeholders in the region, and our stakeholders internationally. We must do everything we can to ensure that we bring all the resources, all the knowledge, all of the will, all the support, and centralised – focus because $200 million is not impossible to achieve. Grenada produces $160 plus million annually. Why can’t we? I know we can. And with my commitment here, not only that we can, but we will do everything to ensure that we will because food security – nutrition security is indeed a must for St. Kitts and Nevis – because we can survive without a lot of things, but we cannot ever survive without food.”

How does the government plan to tackle all the problems before them in getting to that 25% reduction by 2025?

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture et al., Miguel Flemming, presented the government’s plan to drive the 25 by 25 goal. The Ministry has set targets that the sector is expected to meet by 2025 to accomplish the reduction in food imports.

One of the biggest imports for the Federation is poultry which has an annual import value of $19.2 million. Through the Ministry’s strategy, they aim to circulate the $19.2 million with the Federation eventually.

“Just in 2022, you can see that we were almost at $20 million worth of imports in chicken meats, and we were happy to announce last night [July 26] that St. Kitts farmers or entrepreneurs, whoever [is] interested in being a part of the industry can tap into the poultry slaughtering facility that will be constructed in Nevis by December.” 

Fleeming added, “So our target when we look at it, is just over $45 million. And you can see the area of contribution livestock, of course, dominates the picture with 67% because, again, chicken is close to $20 million per year. And then we will look at crops and fisheries and agro-processed … when we will look at flour, we import about $8 million plus per year, but we may not be able to target that type of flour. But we have the potential to look at import substitution like banana, breadfruit, pumpkin and cassava. This is the direction we are going in because we believe in these areas we can have some import substitution… But could you imagine what $45 million can do for the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis?” 

He elaborated further, “So the whole idea is to establish a resilient and productive agri-food system that contributes to economic growth and improves livelihoods. That is where when you divide the $45 million amongst our farmers and our stakeholders, we can see where these positive, measurable benefits will impact our people… we want to ensure that we can reduce our food import, but we also want to ensure that we have safe and healthy food… Our main goal, of course, is for food security, and we believe we can get there.”

Apart from reporting an additional $2 million in government investment annually over the ten years of the strategic plan, the Ministry will launch the greenhouse revolution to provide infrastructure for producing produce that can be grown in protected structures (greenhouses). Twenty-nine acres of land have been identified for a greenhouse village with storage facilities within the village. 

Other plans include: 

  • Improved Land prep and harvesting through investment in agriculture equipment, tractors, harvesters, etc.
  • Livestock breeding increase for small and large ruminants and swine—training in agriculture advancements, hydroponics, greenhouse production, tech packs and extension.
  • A poultry slaughtering facility in Nevis will be built capable of slaughtering 700/800 birds an hour or 10,000 birds a week. Additionally, work is being done on storage expansion, packaging facilities, improved marketing, etc.

How are they securing water for food?

The PS said desalination, water tank distribution to farmers and rainwater harvesting are the measures being looked at in agriculture. 

In Fisheries, the ministry wished to target increased efforts in shrimp, snapper, tilapia and seaweed production through possible fish farms. 

Much work and investment are needed in carrying the agenda in building out the sector based on the plan by the new administration, already grappling with climate change, water shortages, and disorganisation in an industry that could be one of the pillars that determine our ability to sustain ourselves.

See the full launch here:


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