BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, November 18, 2019 (PLP PR Media Inc.) -- Parish Priest, the Rev Canon P. Allister Rawlins of the St. John’s Parish Church, St. John’s Capisterre, with St. Mary’s, Dieppe Bay, on Sunday November 17 talked of the delicate state of food security in a country whose name, Liamuiga, means ‘fertile land’.
In delivering the sermon at the Harvest Thanksgiving Service at the Bellevue-based church, Rev Rawlins told the congregants the country has poor harvests because “we are not growing enough food as we used to. We live in a country (St. Kitts) that is called Liamuiga which means ‘fertile land’ and yet we are dependent on other people for our food production.”
A variety of freshly harvested food crops and fruits were on display at various strategic positions in the church including at the entrance, on the floor placed next to each pew, on the floor in the pulpit area, and on window sills.
The Harvest Thanksgiving service held in Year C - 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, was attended by many faithfuls who included Prime Minister and Area Parliamentary Representative, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris. He was accompanied by Ambassador His Excellency Michael Powell and a contingent of Constituency Number Seven Group members.
In a post-service interview, Rev Rawlins said: “I think it is important for us to think deeply about how we are going to feed ourselves. I talked about an idea that I have that we should have some sort of programme where once you leave high school everybody should have to do a year or two of national service, not in military as it is done in some countries throughout the world, but a food production agriculture programme where we could plant crops, we can raise chicken, we can raise cows and goats so we can feed ourselves… after those two years then we can go to college and be whatever else we want to be.”
Rev Rawlins, who later officiated at a second Harvest Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Parish Church, St. Paul’s Capisterre, observed that if the country does not do anything about the food situation, people will continue to go down the road of dependency.
He recalled how after the hurricanes of 2017 the country could not get vegetables and fruits that normally come from Dominica and St. Vincent. He observed that the country spends a lot of money on importation of food from North America and South America.
“We have Harvest Thanksgiving Service every year around this time,” commented Rev Rawlins. “It used to be a lot more produce than it is now because not too many people are planting any more. We would want people to grow more food not only to bring to the Harvest Thanksgiving Service but so that we can feed ourselves, which is much better than buying food from abroad when we could grow it here.”
Also in a post-service interview, Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris said the message of food security by Rev Canon P. Allister Rawlins is an important one. He noted that the Team Unity Administration certainly wants to take the country to a place where it produces most of what it needs, which would be important, in terms of fruits, vegetables, meat products and fisheries.
The country should aim to contribute the largest share of those items that are needed locally, and the Ministry of Agriculture and the citizens should take charge, and the Prime Minister noted that the pastor’s message was one of citizens’ empowerment to take control of their life and destiny.
He added that in the past the government would have pushed the idea of backyard gardens where every household makes a conscious effort to engage in some form of food production activity, be it limes or lemons or carrots etc.
According to the Honourable Prime Minister, technology is such that a lot can be done through hydroponics and other traditional methods that are available “and so we are in full support of the message of the pastor. From today we think that the Rev Father was correct in making an appeal for us as a country to become more focused and consistent in initiatives leading to food security.”
Prime Minister Harris added: “The Father wants agriculture to feature in national service as a way to enhance food security. The matter has not been discussed by the Cabinet, and the compulsory National Service has not been addressed.”
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