Transforming agriculture, assuring food security

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources, Samal Duggins, has said St. Kitts and Nevis’ agricultural sector  is on the “cusp of a transformative moment”. 

Speaking at April’s wildly successful AgriFest Open Day, Minister Duggins explained that the new Labour administration has been investing heavily in all areas of the sector as they have recognised the critical importance of agriculture to the nation and its people. 

“[Agriculture] holds within it the power to revolutionise our economies, uplift communities and to safeguard our entire environment, and it is time for us…to embrace this potential and embark on a journey toward agricultural revolution that will define the entire future of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Duggins said. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused severe interruptions in the global supply chain, the region’s reliance on food imports, and its vulnerability as a result, were laid bare. Delays in the arrival of cargo vessels containing food to countries along the island chain caused brief periods of shortages of basic food items. This drove home the reality that many of the produce, meats and seafoods imported can be produced locally, or sourced from within the region, with proper planning.

By embracing agriculture and its untapped potential, the minister said the federation, and the region, are now positioned to usher in an era of improved food security.

“It is far too long,” said Duggins, “…that our small islands have been dependent on import for our food security, leaving us vulnerable to price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and so many other vulnerabilities, but we have within us the ability to change this narrative. By investing in our local agriculture, we can not only ensure food security for our people, but also create economic opportunities that will benefit all of us.”

Minister Duggins also outlined some of the immediate benefits the federation will enjoy as a result of the priority being given to agriculture. 

“It is the catalyst for rural development; empowering our farmers and revolutionising our communities. By promoting sustainable farming practices…we can protect our natural resources and preserve our environment for future generations,” he said.

The minister also called for the nation to rally behind the ministry, farmers and agricultural stakeholders and play an active role in realising the vision for the sector.

“This agricultural revolution cannot happen without you. Each and every one of us has a role to play in this journey. Whether you are a farmer, policy maker, consumer, fisher, your actions matter. Together we can create a future where St. Kitts and Nevis can be prosperous, sustainable and self-reliant,” said Minister Duggins.

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