MoA to focus on risk management to meet 25 by 2025 target

Basseterre, St. Kitts — Working under the theme, A Transformative Blueprint For A Sustainable Future, the Ministry of Agriculture has identified a number of areas upon which it will increase its risk managment meaures to achieve the goal of reducing the country’s food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.

As part of the mission to increase national food security, the Ministry of Agriculture, which is led by Minister Samal Duggins, has identified several priority areas for attention including the development of a drought resilience programme, feral control, and the creation of a veterinary diagnostic laboratory. These initiatives will all  seek to reduce the risks associated with agricultural production loss.

In a document titled The Journey to 2025 and Beyond, the agriculture ministry detailed the drought resilience programme. According to the document, “strategically placed” water storage tanks are being put online to give farmers increased access to water. Areas with clusters of farms are being given priority for these water storage facilities. Pipelines will also be installed to ensure efficient water distribution to farmers. Additionally, a management team will be established to ensure the proper maintenance of the new pipelines. Technicians attached to the Water Services Department will also receive training on desalination operations.

Regarding the feral control initiative, the Ministry of Agriculture has established a Feral Control Unit which will provide leadership and help to farmers in controlling wild animals. St. Kitts and Nevis’s agricultural sector has for decades experienced great difficulty with losses caused by wild animals, including monkeys, the adverse effects they have on food production.

According to a study cited in The Journey to 2025 and Beyond, St. Kitts and Nevis’s agricultural sector loses $4 million annually as a result of the destructive impact of wild animals.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture has said the aim of the veterinary diagnostic lab is to “strengthen the national biosafety and quality systems and to bolster capacity for compliance with sanitary measures and trade compliance.” 

The document added: “The envisioned outcomes of this initiative include the establishment of a modern lab accredited to operate at BSL-2 (Biosafety Level 2), the implementation of robust animal disease surveillance programmes, and the development of a national early warning system for animal diseases, including those with zoonotic implications.”

BSL-2 covers laboratories that work with agents associated with human diseases (i.e. pathogenic or infectious organisms) that pose a moderate health hazard.

The Journey to 2025 and Beyond also discusses, among other things, target monitoring, progress measurement in the agriculture sector, and market data.

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