CARDI Board chairman urges youth of the Caribbean to get into “prosperous and profitable enterprise” of agriculture
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS & NEVIS — While bringing remarks in observance of World Food Day, celebrated around the world on October 16 annually, Agriculture Minister in the Nevis Island Administration Alexis Jeffers said the nation must increase its production of crops as it seeks to recover from the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Based on the demands from our population, we realize that we must increase our local production in an effort to reduce the importation of food from larger countries and producers,” he said. “We have in the past demonstrated our capacity in several crops and root tubers when we were able to export to neighboring islands.”
Outlining steps undertaken by his administration to aid farmers with ramping up their operations, Jeffers explained, “The introduction of additional shade houses provided by the federal government is expected to bolster our production in cash crops such as peppers, cucumbers, tomato, lettuce and culinary herbs.
“Our growth strategy in combination with farmers seeks balance among issues such as sustainability, profit, abundance, safety, technology, tradition and quality. We recognize that farming must be done in the most efficient way possible and that it results in returns for our farmers.”
He added, “The Department of Agriculture also understands its role in numerous support services such as land preparation, sales and storage of produce, agro-processing, veterinary services and abattoir services as well. We continue to empower staff and farmers with training to deliver on the services and other deliverables that our population requires.”
However, the minister also urged that “farmers, in turn, must be responsible for the safety and quality of food supplied to the population”.
Jeffers noted that agriculture operations had been scaled back during the peak of the pandemic to mitigate risk of COVID spread, which the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) acknowledged has “threatened the lives and livelihoods of people in the region” as “agriculture production continues to trend downwards”.
To this end, Chairman of CARDI’s Board of Directors Ignatius Jean asserted, “A significant part of transforming the Caribbean food systems must be the increased engagement of youth in agriculture and the promotion of agriculture as a prosperous and profitable enterprise.
"More people, especially our Caribbean youth, must become attracted to and engaged in agriculture.”