St. Kitts and Nevis seeks to harmonize agricultural practices

(SKNIS): Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture in St. Kitts and in Nevis will hold formal discussions as they seek to harmonize rules and practices in the agricultural fields. The first official meeting is slated for Tuesday, August 23 in Nevis.

Alistair Edwards, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, outlined the issues that will be discussed.

“Among the issues to be discussed to ensure that we have one unified position, is the issue to deal with the export of fish out of a country,” said the Permanent Secretary. “The other issues relate to the veterinary services on St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as the possible creation of a pork industry. We realize that pork is growing on both islands and we want St. Kitts and Nevis to speak with one voice especially where trade is concerned, particularly to do with the importation of pork, as well as the sale of fresh pork on the local market. We will also discuss the procedures and protocol of plant quarantine.”

Mr. Edwards said that local farmers have been clamoring for the Ministry of Agriculture to restrict imports of goods because of the increase production and a difficulty in selling their meats. He noted that the move will be difficult as trade matters will be impacted.

“The World Trade Organization (WTO), which St. Kitts and Nevis is a part of, forbids that in terms of its aims at free trade,” he said, while explaining that the only way to solve the issue is to create a pork industry. “We have to speak to famers from Newton Ground [in St. Kitts] to Indian Castle [in Nevis]. We have to take their numbers within the Federation, their farm families, their possible production, current production and projections for the future before we would even think about any sort of protection for trade.”

The Permanent Secretary noted that the onus is now on the farmers to join together and plan the best way forward. He said the Ministry is working on agriculture and certification fees across the country as they are supposed to be standard.

“I think that there is a discrepancy in fees in terms of what Nevis charges and what St. Kitts charges,” he said. “We want to get that at one level as it should be one thing across the board especially to do with veterinary services.

The discussions are expected to take place quarterly where Permanent Secretaries will meet with Directors of related departments.