BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, February 8, 2024 (SKNIS) – The Ministry of Agriculture is pressing ahead towards its goal of achieving a twenty-five percent reduction in the country’s food import bill by the year 2025, by partnering with a group of local farmers who have agreed to focus their production on specific crops.
The crops identified by the ministry as part of its Crop Production Agenda are watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes and sweet peppers.
Ministry officials, including Minister the Honourable Samal Duggins, Permanent Secretary Miguel Flemming and Director Jeanelle Kelly, met with the farmers who will be producing sweet peppers and tomatoes on Wednesday (February 07, 2024) during a 25 by 25 Crop Farmer Commodity Meeting where the details of the Crop Production Agenda were outlined and explained.
As part of this project, the Department of Agriculture will support the crop farmers through the provision of relevant inputs for the execution of the Crop Production Agenda towards achieving the national targets.
Minister Duggins said the Crop Production Agenda is part of the ministry’s phased approach to attaining the 25 by 25 agenda target, taking into account every step of the value chain.
Based on their early projections, it is anticipated that farmers would produce more than what is needed locally. As such, Minister Duggins said they have already engaged officials in St. Maarten and St. Eustatius and will soon hold discussions with officials in the British Virgin Islands on the issue of agricultural trade.
“So what this means for you as farmers is that you will produce all that we need locally, that’s our first target. When we are finished with that, whatever St. Eustatius needs, whatever St. Maarten needs and whatever is needed in the Virgin Islands [we will provide],” the minister said.
Moreover, Minister Duggins stated that his team has also been actively meeting with the major players within the local market “so that we understand what they need and how we can connect that to what we are growing.”
Following Wednesday’s session, the participating farmers were presented with certificates of proof of their involvement with the project.
Crop farmers who will be focusing their attention on planting watermelon and cantaloupe are expected to meet with ministry officials on Thursday, February 8, 2024 at the Department of Agriculture’s large conference room at La Guerite.
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