Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 19, 2020 (ZIZ News) : The push to ensure food security in the federation by the Department of Agriculture is already seeing positive results with farmers reaping a massive harvest of local vegetables.
Shanique Harvey has the details….
The ramping up of food production came from the possibility of food shortage due to lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Department of Agriculture and the government of St. Kitts and Nevis sought to get ahead of this by implementing a stimulus package in the sum of $10 million to aid in increasing food production.
Director of Agriculture, Melvin James said that about 270 farmers were interested in increasing their production.
He added that there were a number of criteria in place for the farmers who were a part of the program which assisted with the success of the harvest.
“We said we’ll work first with persons who have irrigation, we would also work with persons whose lands were just about ready so that we could quickly get the things into the ground and we would work with people first of all who had some experience with the crop and I believe that our criteria was well founded because we got some excellent results,” he said.
The agriculture director revealed that 2 acres of land were cultivated for squash, 3 and half acres for sweet peppers, 12 acres for sweet potatoes and 1 and a half acres for watermelon.
He provided the number of each crop harvested.
“With the 2 acres of squash we have over 18 thousand pounds of squash on the ground right now. Just two days ago a farmer from Cayon brought in 3 thousand pounds of his own production with over another 3 thousand pounds in the field. The water melons we had some 2 thousand pounds stored here from a Famer in Newton Ground, I’m happy to report the watermelons are moving fast and so what we have left today is just a few bags compared to what we started with a week ago and the other thing is the sweet peppers, we have an order from one of the supermarkets for some 5 hundred pounds this week and I’m very happy that we can deliver 5 hundred pounds of sweet pepper to a local supermarket.”
One recipient of the stimulus package was Leon Anthony, a farmer of 5 acres of land in St. Peter’s. He shared the benefits of being a part of the program.
“Receiving the stimulus package was a really good start off for me because during the weather things were so rough and the government had provided the stimulus package to us farmers in which was a very good move to me. I got at least over 3 thousand seedlings of sweet peppers in which I already harvested over 8 hundred pounds so I believe the program is going very good for me so far.”
The Department of Agriculture used the package to assist the farmers with various inputs and services such as land preparation, chemicals, seeds and seedlings, fertilizers, extension services storage and sales.