Each year co-operative societies around the world celebrate international co-operative day on the first Saturday in July.
This year international co-operative day will be celebrated on 7th July around the world, St. Kitts Nevis included. Here in St. Kitts, the Department of Co-operatives in partnership with the local co-operative movement and allied agencies have put together a week of activities to promote and highlight the work and success of co-operatives. The week of activities will be celebrated under the theme sustainable consumption and production of goods and services as guided by the United Nations’ and the International Co-operative Alliance.
This theme is very instructive as it creates awareness and supports environmental protection. As human beings we are responsible for protecting mother earth. It is where we live, where we work and play, and we must ensure that it remains habitable for all living things.
As human beings and social creatures, we must accept the protection of the environment as our sacred social responsibility. We must pass on a better earth to succeeding generations of all living things if we are to live comfortably. Our theme promotes that.
What should our actions be if we are to ensure sustainable consumption and production of goods and services?
An excellent example is available locally. This is carried out by the Gideon Force Agricultural Co-operative in Old Road. Its members are engaged in organic farming; they use no chemicals to degenerate the environment. It is a joy to see local farmers doing things the natural way. Having referred to the example of the Giddeon Force, I am encouraged to invite those entrepreneurs engaged in agro-processing, to embrace the natural concept and to ensure that the various fruits that are used for value added products were planted by others; especially those who engage in organic production. Plant fruit trees so you can have for future harvest and also to preserve the environment. Among other things, it will expand the habitat for birds and create foraging for bees.
Our fisherman’s Co-operatives are encouraged also to use their numbers to adapt and implement strategies to guarantee sustainable harvesting of fish, and they must resist the urge to harvest juvenile fish which has already led to the implementation of a Marine Management Area, so that our fish will mature, to be able to reproduce so that their species are available for future generations.
Where the reefs are overfished you are encouraged to use your membership to adapt different fishing strategies to allow the reefs to replenish with such alternatives as fish aggregating devices so that you can target ocean pelagic.
Through this medium, I encourage all local co-operatives to come together and organize an annual retreat to discuss and implement collective actions for sustainable development of the local co-operative movement.
Prove to yourselves that you are autonomous and independent, despite the fact that the Government stands ready to provide support to your innovative agendas.
I am encouraging all co-operative societies to actively participate in co-op week 2018 so that the public can see this sector as an anchor for economic development.
On Sunday 1st July from 9.30am, staff of the Department of Co-operatives and members of co-operatives will worship at the Peoples Evangelistic Centre at Needsmust Estate. On Monday 2nd July there will be talks in primary schools by noteworthy authorities of the Cooperatives.
Tuesday 3rd July will be an awards dinner ceremony which will be held at Manhattan Garden to honour individuals and co-operatives for their contributions to the overall economic development.
On Thursday 5th July representatives of co-operatives will appear on local radio stations to promote the local co-operative movement.
On Friday 6th July it is our flagship activity, which is a fair at Independence Square.
I encourage the public to attend on Friday, come!! buy and learn more about co-operatives.
Finally, on Saturday 7th July which is acknowledged as International Co-operative day, the global message will be delivered by Minister of Co-operatives. On that same day in Sandy Point, there will be the anniversary celebration of the re-opening of the public market which is one of the signal projects of the Agriculture cooperatives of Sandy Point.
At this point I salute the contribution of a major pioneer in the local co-operative movement, Mr. Ingle Blackett of Nevis who is now deceased. He was the first registrar of co-operatives who almost single handedly developed the strategic framework for what we now embrace as a thriving society of co-operatives.
This is the second year that co-op week is celebrated and we expect this year to be more engaging than the first year, and I have high expectations for the celebrations and look forward to the week with much anticipation.
I therefore declare co-op week 2018 officially open.