Agriculture Open Day was an eye-opener, says Development Bank official

Mr Eldean Huggins (right) of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis mans the stand at LaGuerite.

Basseterre St. Kitts (May 2, 2012) — An official of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis is of the opinion that the two-day Department of Agriculture Open Day exposition, held April 26-27 at La Guerite, was testament to the nation’s ability to feed itself.

“Held under the theme ‘Transformation of the Agricultural Sector: Farm to Fork Approach’, we at the Development Bank are satisfied that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is on the threshold of achieving total food security,” said the bank’s head of the Business Support Unit, Mr Shavon Douglas.

“This year’s theme is not an empty cliché as some people might think,” observed Douglas. “We as a major player in the agricultural sector took part in the two-day event where many of the bank’s clients and potential clients visited our stand wanting to know how the bank could help them. The event was an eye-opener.”

The Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis has been the leading player in development and financing over the years and agriculture is one of those key developmental areas, commented Mr Douglas. To ensure that the sector is on the right track, the bank has sought to further interact with the farmers.

“Aside from the financing aspect we have taken on new roles where just last year we partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture in putting on a workshop,” said Douglas. “That workshop was basically designed to enhance the capacity of farmers where we wanted to help them to better understand and compute their costing because costing is one of the primary elements in any business.”

Development Bank’s head of the Business Support Unit, Mr Shavon Douglas,addressing farmers at Sandy Point earlier this year.

The Development Bank has fulfilled its mandate in ensuring that the country has proper food security, said the bank official. To ensure that there is continuity the Development Bank has sought and succeeded in sourcing cheaper financing for the farmers, which include the SIDF partnership that has sought to lend up to $50,000 at a more affordable rate of three percent.

“As a lending institution, we believe that St. Kitts and Nevis has the full potential to feed itself,” said Douglas. “What needs to happen though is that farmers, by and large, have to take the leading role in terms of upgrading and developing themselves because farming has now taken on a new direction, where it is a lot more science and technology based as opposed to the traditional back-breaking farming.”

The Development Bank official concluded by saying that the country could easily get to the next level, where it could become a full commercial export market to some countries in the region, which are not endowed with the fertile soils the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has.

“The awareness that the Department of Agricultural is creating through avenues like the Open Day exhibition, has a double edge result as the common man also gets to learn that locally produced food is better nutritionally and cheaper to buy,” said Douglas.

Since the Development Bank is mandated to develop the country, “we will work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the country moves to the stage where we are fully self sustainable and become a major player in the production of our local produce.”

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