Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The pathway for reforms and enhanced production in the agricultural sector in St. Kitts and Nevis over the next decade has been mapped out and was officially launched on Thursday, September 30, 2021.
Local agricultural officials including Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Marine Resources, the Honourable Alexis Jeffers, participated in a Zoom Conference to mark the official launch of St. Kitts and Nevis Agricultural Transformation and Growth Strategy 2022-2031. Dr. Renata Clarke, Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean also participated.
Minister Jeffers noted that the new strategy document is comprehensive as it covers key areas including innovation, the infusion of new technology, and mitigating strategies to combat climate change.
“The most effective way to improve the lives of persons within any developing country is through agriculture and the support that is given to agriculture,” Honourable Jeffers stated. “We have seen over the years that many economies would have started and pivoted from the establishment of a vibrant agriculture sector and through that other sectors would have flourished.”
The minister said that the government has embraced this 10-year strategy as the way forward, particularly as it highlights recruiting more persons into the sector.
“Transformation of the agricultural sector can certainly lead to more jobs; it can raise the income level of those involved in the sector, and it certainly will kickstart a pathway for persons involved in the sector to raise their standard of living …,” Minister Jeffers said. “Money is there to be made from agriculture and if we do not capitalize on those opportunities that agriculture presents then all of the talks we have regarding import substitution will be to no avail.”
FAO’s Dr. Renata Clarke noted that her agency was delighted to be invited by the local government to assist in the ongoing transformation of the sector. FAO provided financial and technical support during the strategy development. Dr. Clarke said that governments around the world have recommitted to enhancing the agricultural sector in response to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the action by the local ministry stands out.
“I have been truly impressed by the extremely business-like way in which the Ministry of Agriculture in St. Kitts and Nevis is walking the talk and investing in agricultural projects and tracking progress,” she said, noting that there is great momentum for further development.
Dr. Clarke encouraged all stakeholders to embrace the implementation of the strategy document and to capitalize on the momentum to grow and transform the agricultural sector.