CHARLESTOWN, Nevis - AS St. Kitts and Nevis prepares to join the rest of the world in observing and celebrating World Food Day 2020 on Friday (Oct. 16), concerns are being raised over food and nutrition security in the era of COVID-19.
In his address to open a week of activities culminating with the World Food Day celebrations, Agriculture Minister Alexis Jeffers highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore issues surrounding food and nutrition security around the world, including Nevis.
That means farmers must do more in ensuring that there is a variety of crops produced. And Minister Jeffers noted that with borders closed it is necessary that farmers are supported to ensure they could grow the necessary food items that could support the population.
“The food that is cultivated, whether it be plant-based or livestock, should be nutritious, that it nourishes the body with the necessary proteins, starches, vitamins, and minerals for the maintenance of our health and productivity. As a people, we are in need of healthy food on a daily basis. As such, our farmers need to be in a position to be able to provide these foods on a continuous basis and have a coordinated approach where farmers share the responsibility,” he explained.
Over the years, agriculture and health officials in St. Kitts and Nevis have raised concerns over the level of nutrition in foods and what residents are consuming.
To combat the problem on Nevis, the Ministry of Agriculture is seeking to reintroduce a pilot programme that was first introduced in the 1990s that was termed the Nevis Model.
“Under that programme, which received regional attention, which targeted the Four Seasons Resort Nevis to ensure a sustained supply of local fruits and vegetables, our goal going forward is to reintroduce this system, but it will be expanded to include all hotels, restaurants and supermarkets on the island.
“As a Ministry, we also recognise that to do this we have to support the sector by embracing technology and efficient business practices. According to the FAO website, Smallholder farmers need greater access to finance, training, innovation and technology to improve their livelihoods. As they improve their livelihoods, they also improve productivity.
“Further, we know that there is wastage of food that happens because of inefficient or poor post-harvest practices. To combat this, the Ministry and Department, a few years ago, with the assistance of Inter-Caribbean Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), established the Agro Processing Plant at Prospect to ensure there are value-added products available for the items that cannot be consumed within the fresh stages.”
To celebrate the day, the Ministry of Agriculture on Nevis is hosting a week of activities, including a Farmers Market, radio appearances and Nevis Cultural Village.