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Posted: Sunday 12 February, 2017 at 5:35 PM

Agriculture Department pushing for greater efficiency in 2017

By: Jermine Abel,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - WITH the agriculture sector reporting improvements in crop production for 2016, officials at the Department of Agriculture are looking to boost the industry this year.


    Head of the Department Melville James - who has full oversight of the agriculture sector - told SKNVibes that they are looking at promoting efficiency in the area of previously-implemented projects.


    This, James explained, comes as a number of projects lack continuity after their pilot phases are completed


    “We want to place emphasis on efficiency. In the past, we have had all kinds of projects coming in, and very often, at the end of these projects, there is no continuity.”


    Officials recently took a step back and carried out an internal review to see what were some of the projects that are currently on stream and sought ways in which they could reorganize and improve them so as to bring further benefits to farmers.


    “A lot of these things can take us far; it is not just new things,” he said.


    James pointed to the use of technology which boosted the production of crops, giving the example of the use of the Farmer Field School, which had a major impact on the local sector.


    “Normally, when we produce cabbages we would get a meager amount per acre - like 5000 pounds per acre. In the last two years, we have been exposed to simple technology which we call the Farmer Field School. And we have used it on several locations - at least two locations - and in each case, we have been able to get something like 11,000 pounds of cabbages from the same area.


    “In other words, we have increased our output by over 200%. No real new technology, no real new equipment; no real new big project.  There are many things that we have and if we just spend time and just fine-tune them, we would be doing a lot better job,” explained James.


    Though some attention would be placed on the use of technologies, the Department would also be focusing on several other challenges facing the sector including, monkeys and irrigation issues. 


    The Department would be holding a planning and review meeting at the end of the month, where its members are expected to discuss policies that would be implemented for the year.


    “We are going to outline in detail, plans for agriculture in 2017. We want to emphasize efficiency.”


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