Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 29, 2020 (SKNIS)
Farmers in St. Kitts and Nevis stand ready to increase production to ensure food security, says Director in the Department of Agriculture, Melvin James, during the April 27 National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing. Mr. James stated that the government has aided in this initiative by implementing a stimulus package in the sum of $10 million.
The director stated that historically the country has grown some 15 types of vegetables. He added since the country is experiencing the dry season all cannot be grown. However, they have selected the heartier crops that mature quickly for this project. Melon, squash, pumpkin, sweet pepper, yam and sweet potato were among the crops selected.
The department recently met with over 80 farmers and encouraged them to double and even quadruple their usual production. For instance, five acres of sweet potato and a half acre in cabbage and carrots. Mr. James said that the farmers stand ready to “ramp up their production” and research indicates that farmers were interested in 38 acres of peanuts, 15 acres of squash, 20 acres of carrots to name a few.
The director said that the Department of Agriculture is offering help in terms of free land preparation, free seedlings, free chemicals, free advice and even free help in marketing.
As proof the of farmers’ willingness to engage they were asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), said Mr. James.The director stated that all farmers will be helped within a three-month period.
“Naturally in circumstances like these, farmer response will be overwhelming,” he said. “In the coming days we will in fact start production, but it is unwise to start with all of the crops and all of the farmers. So, we will produce a schedule and try to include everyone somewhere within the three-month cycle.”