Food Security: Federation moving in the right direction, says Prime Minister Harris

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BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, July 8, 2021 (MMS-SKN) — With the country faced by the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis injected $15 million to boost production and to ensure agricultural food security which according to Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris has returned dividends.

“My Government continues to provide ongoing support to the Agriculture Sector and the Small Business Sector, and I want to identify some of that support, because in the context of Covid-19, issues of food security loom large,” said Dr Harris on Thursday July 8 when he hosted the latest edition of Prime Minister’s Monthly Press Conference at the NEMA Headquarters conference room in Lime Kiln.

He noted that some of the issues plaguing the general public included how they would eat, how they would live, and what would happen if the boat that brings agricultural produce from Dominica did not come. Other issues included what would happen if there was to be a disruption in the supply chain with respect to chicken, pork, beef, or any of the food items which the country imports in large quantities.   

With that in mind the Team Unity Government therefore injected $15 million to boost production and to ensure agricultural food security, while over the same period the Ministry of Agriculture allocated additional lands for farming. Since water is critical to agriculture, Government provided a temporary waiver of water payments for farmers.

With that investment made in agriculture, Prime Minister Harris said he was pleased to report that it had returned dividends. He added: “During the period January to May 2021, the dollar value of crop and livestock production rose by 44 percent (from $3.6m in 2020 to $5.2m in 2021) – significant movement. Crop output increased by 27 percent. Livestock output increased by 90 percent over the period.”

Saying that the Department of Agriculture has attributed the success to the Government’s stimulus package, the Honourable Prime Minister added that dividends had also been returned in the area of fishing. Fish landings increased by 51 percent for the period January to May 2021 compared to same period in 2020.

“We are therefore moving in the right direction to food security,” said Dr Harris.

He however advised: “We are not yet there, but we are moving in the right direction when we see this significant movement in the volumes. We will know when we are there when fewer boats are coming. We will know when we are there when the chicken we are eating in our hotels, in our restaurants is produced here, and is of the highest quality. Yes we will know. For now we could take comfort in the fact that based on those statistics, we are moving in the right direction.”

Dr Harris commended Permanent Secretary Mr Ron Dublin-Collins, who he said has been working a plan which has brought results. Through the Permanent Secretary, who was present at the Press Conference, he also commended all those who are involved in the agricultural sector, including the country’s partners like CARDI, IICA, and FAO, for their contribution.

“But most importantly the work of our farmers come to mind,” said the Prime Minister. “Names like Mr Politics involved in livestock, Debbie Gilbert-Davis at Phillips one of the most vibrant female farmers, Mrs Pemberton in Old Road, George Jeffery in Tabernacle, Shaheed Williams in St. Paul’s, the Henderson Brothers in Saddlers, and Rodney aka Marsh Charles my good Rastaman friend in Molineux among hundreds of others who are making a contribution. I want equally to mention a good brother, Easton Morson, in the Buckley’s area.”

Present at the Press Conference, which was moderated by Director General of the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) Mr Lesroy Williams, were Deputy Prime Minister the Hon Shawn Richards, Cabinet Ministers, the Hon Jonel Powell, the Hon Vincent Byron Jr., the Hon Eugene Hamilton, the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett, the Hon Lindsay Grant, and the Hon Wendy Phipps.

Others present included Deputy Speaker Senator the Hon Dr Bernicia Nisbett, Ambassador His Excellency Michael Powell, Commissioner of Police Hilroy Brandy, Commander of St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force Lt Col J. Anthony Comrie, National Security Adviser Retired Major Stewart Saunders; Financial Secretary Mrs Hillary Hazel; Permanent Secretaries, Mr Andrew Skerritt, Mr Osmond Petty, Dr Delores Stapleton Harris, and Mrs Elreter Simpson Browne; Chief Medical Officer Dr Hazel Laws, and Medical Chief of Staff Dr Cameron Wilkinson.   

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