Theft is among reasons for decrease in crop production in 2009

ZIZ News…March 9, 2010 – The Director of Agriculture says there has been a reduction in crop production for the year 2009 as a result of a number of factors, including theft.

Mr. Ashton Stanley disclosed this information today during the 15th Annual Agriculture Review and Planning Meeting of the Department of Agriculture, which was held under the theme, “Achieving food security in times of crisis in the context of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

Mr. Stanley gave a detailed outline of the crop production for last year.

He said: “Vegetable production for 2009 was adversely affected by heavy and consistent rainfall in the last quarter of the year. This considerably reduced the amount of land preparation services that could have been carried out during the time and therefore reduced the planting of crops by farmers. A major factor which may have contributed to the decline in production was a burglary committed at the department’s storage room where an estimated EC$30,000 worth of seeds and chemicals were stolen in a single night.”

The Keynote Speaker at the Review and Planning Meeting was Mr. Analdo Bailey, Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Banking and Financial Services. In his address, Mr. Bailey says food security can play a critical role in reducing crime.

“In context of St Kitts and Nevis with increased food availability served to reduce poverty and criminal activity. The focus should be on producing quality crops and food that will provide nourishment for life and health. Farming is an important activity and should be treated by such in all policy framework.”

The Minister of Agriculture, Hon Dr Timothy Harris says the recent drought should be a reminder to everyone, just how important agriculture is.

Also speaking at today’s agriculture review and planning meeting, Minister Harris says he will be an advocate for the agriculture department, so that the industry can get the recognition it deserves.

Dr. Harris has earlier served the nation as the Minister of Agriculture. He noted that he has returned to the ministry with a realistic view on agriculture adding that he will ensure that the concerns of those in the agriculture industry, will receive the attention of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

“I promise that in this innings together we will make the best of our circumstances and it shall be my job to bring the concerns of this sector to the Prime Minister and Cabinet thereby mobilizing the support of the entire government on your behalf.”

He continued, “The Prime Minister of course is also the Minister with responsibility for lands, a critical resource input and also for providing the necessary financial resources. These of course are going to be critical if we are to make any serious inwards in mainstreaming Agriculture in the national economy.”

A number of agencies, such as CARDI, FAO, IICA, the Agriculture Resource Management Project and the Agricultural and Technical Mission of the Republic of China on Taiwan were represented at the meeting.

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