Investment in agriculture bearing fruit; local producers encouraged to fill importation gaps

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 21, 2021 (SKNIS): The $10 million stimulus package into the agricultural sector by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis last year is bearing fruit.

On Tuesday’s (October 19, 2021) edition of Leadership Matters, Acting Director of the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Tracy Challenger, highlighted improvements in agricultural production recorded this year.

“The data shows that up to the end of the second quarter of 2021, there was an overall 63 percent increase in crop production compared to the same period in 2020. In the case of livestock, there has been a 24 percent increase up to the end of the third quarter compared to the same period in 2020,” Dr. Challenger reported.

The added investment was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has negatively impacted economies around the world. The pandemic has also created shipping delays for consumer goods that have resulted in disruptions to the global supply chains.

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris referred to the challenges in the supply chain on Tuesday and encouraged local farmers and fishers to produce more of what is needed.

Director Challenger mentioned the need to establish better linkages with importers.

“They play a critical role in the establishment and sustaining of economic vitality, which is important to ensure that producers, retailers and processors who produce our food can earn a decent living wage from their trade,” she stated. “So economic vitality is important to ensure that these people continue to produce food.”

Dr. Challenger noted that the concerns of importers regarding food safety, consistency, and production standards within the local supply chain, must also be addressed appropriately. To achieve this, she encouraged farmers and fishers to improve market intelligence and data collection to forecast and respond to gaps in the supply chain.

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