MP Duggins: “Agriculture is thriving”

Member of Parliament for Constituency Number 4, Samal Duggins, informed the National Assembly on Thursday that agriculture in the federation is doing well and has the full backing of the ministry, which he heads.

Duggins pointed to the recent successfully staged AgriFest Open Day, which enjoyed overwhelming participation from both agriculturalists and the public, as an indicator of agriculture’s aboutface.

He told the National Assembly that this is part of his ministry’s goal to improve national food security while also to diversify the economy through the sale of surplus products.

“That plan had one thing at its core: improve agricultural productivity and position the country to export food to the region. That was our commitment, and today I stand here proudly to say to you, Madame Speaker, that in the agricultural sector, as witnessed at the most recently staged open day, we see that our sector is thriving ,” he said. 

He also outlined several of the forward thinking initiatives his ministry has implemented to support agriculturalists since coming to office.

“We’ve ordered 400,000 slips – 200,000 banana, 200,00 plantain slips – for St. Kitts and Nevis. [If] all goes well, the economic viability of that is somewhere within $180 million annually, and we do hope to achieve that with the support of our farmers,” Duggins said.

“We’ve also launched our DRIP programme; our Drought Resilience Irrigation Project. That will see hundreds of farmers receiving support, free of cost from this government, in fencing their farms, in providing mechanisms for more efficient water use, as we recognise the severity of droughts becoming increasingly worse, and also ground cover to minimise the incidence of pests, weeds and retain water moisture. We have also ordered…and are on the way, 13,000 coconut slips,” he continued. 

He also addressed other areas of agriculture that are receiving attention and booming as a result.

“While we talk about agriculture, we cannot, of course, leave out our fisherfolk and our fisherfolk have been receiving support. The data has shown that in 2023 the fisheries sector would have brought in fifteen plus million dollars to people who are engaged in that sector. I think that’s a huge accomplishment,” Minister Duggins said, adding that this figure represented a record achievement for the sector.

The agriculture minister said these successes in agriculture are a tangible manifestation of the Labour administration’s commitment to the sector. 

A number of other initiatives are also in progress. These were outlined in the 25 by 2025 document which outlines the government’s plan to reduce food imports by 25 percent by next year. 

This includes the Greenhouse Village initiative. 

According to the other document, “This proactive initiative involves constructing fifteen Greenhouses in the initial phase, strategically focused on mass-producing priority crops like sweet peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, cucumbers, and melons. The initiative will also be repairing existing greenhouse structures both on St. Kitts and Nevis.”

An agro-processing facility will also be developed which will allow for produce to be manufactured into items such as juices, hot sauces and other products for both local consumption and export.

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