WATCH VIDEO: Farmers in St. Kitts and Nevis Renew Call for Immediate Resignation of Agriculture Minister Hon. Samal Duggins

Farmers in St. Kitts and Nevis Renew Call for Immediate Resignation of Agriculture Minister Hon. Samal Duggins

In a fervent plea aired on WINN FM’s “Island Tea” programme, members of the Farmers Consortium of St. Kitts and Nevis have renewed their call for the immediate resignation of the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Samal Duggins. The Consortium expressed their dissatisfaction with Minister Duggins’ handling of agricultural policies and his failure to effectively engage with the farming community.

During the broadcast, a representative of the Farmers Consortium delivered a pointed message to the Minister, emphasizing that their request was not for personal gain or friendship but for the proper execution of government duties. The spokesperson stated, “The Consortium is asking for him to conduct government business, of which he is paid to do. And if he refuses to conduct government business, we are asking the Minister, with the greatest of humility, please to resign.”

The Consortium outlined several key issues that have been persistently ignored by the Ministry of Agriculture. Among their primary concerns is the lack of an advisory committee that would allow farmers to participate in decision-making processes. Such a committee, they argue, would ensure that the needs and insights of the farming community are taken into account in policy formulation and implementation.

Additionally, the Consortium highlighted the need for a financial architecture to support farmers. They proposed that a portion of the government’s agricultural expenditure be allocated to a revolving fund. This fund would provide financial assistance to farmers who do not necessarily require seeds and fertilizers but need capital to expand their operations. “Out of that could have come a quarter of the monies that they’re spending…into a revolving fund for farmers,” the representative noted.

Another significant demand from the farmers is the revision of the colonial duty-free policy, which currently benefits the hotel industry by allowing duty-free imports of agricultural products. The Consortium argues that amending this policy to extend similar benefits to local farmers would promote the agricultural sector and reduce dependence on imported goods. “We also ask that a duty-free policy…that give rights to the hotel industry…be also looked at and that some amendment be brought to that same policy so that farmers could begin to benefit,” the spokesperson asserted.

The frustration of the farmers is compounded by the lack of communication from Minister Duggins. The Consortium has repeatedly sought a formal response from the Minister regarding their proposals but has been met with silence. “For today, for us not to be able to even have a proper correspondent from the Minister himself indicating any movement on anything, we’re saying that we believe that if you’re not going to carry out the task as the Minister, that you must resign,” the representative stated emphatically.

The farmers also criticized the Minister for failing to serve the entire community impartially. They reminded him of his oath to serve all constituents, not just those who support him or are within his inner circle. “The oath is to serve everybody, whether or not you are friends with them, whether or not they like you or you don’t like them. The oath is to serve the entire farming community,” the Consortium reiterated.

In conclusion, the Farmers Consortium of St. Kitts and Nevis is calling for decisive action to address their grievances. They believe that if Minister Duggins is unable or unwilling to fulfill his responsibilities, he should step aside to allow someone committed to serving the agricultural community with distinction to take over. Their appeal underscores a deep-seated need for effective leadership and proactive policies to support the nation’s farmers.

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