The project which was completed over a two year period was sponsored by Organization of American States, (OAS) at a cost of US $48,000.
On Wednesday 18th November, the document was officially handed over to the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Timothy Harris, at the OAS office located at Horsford Road, Basseterre.
St. Kitts and Nevis’ OAS representative, Starret Greene who made the presentation to Dr Harris, said that development of the rural areas is one of his personal goals. He cited reasons for his intense involvement and collaboration with the government to ensure the project’s smooth transition.
“I came from the rural parts of Antigua and so I know the cries of the rural people and I know the problems and challenges that persons in these areas face as well as the entrepreneurial spirit that exist in the rural areas because I have seen it,” Greene said.
According to the OAS representative, “There are many resources that lay dormant in rural areas and if these areas are tapped into that’s when the opportunities will emerge and that is exactly what the Agro/Eco/Tourism Development Project has done.”
Agriculture minister, Dr Timothy Harris, described the document also as a road map to enhance economic sustainability between the agricultural and tourism sectors.
“The Agro/Eco/Tourism Development Project falls within the economic development programme that has been ongoing between this government and the OAS. For this assistance we are grateful to the Organization of American States for where they have assisted with the tourism development but, in this case, also for helping to form this marriage between the agricultural and tourism sector,” Harris said.
With the availability of this document to the public, this creates more investment opportunities for persons especially who were dependant on the now-closed sugar industry, Harris stated.
The final report signalled the end of the execution of the Agro/Eco/Tourism Development project that was administered and managed by the Policy and Planning Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture. The project was primarily designed to identify potential areas for investment, job creation and income generation in the rural communities in St. Kitts. However, an investigation into the potential for the development of Agro/Eco/Tourism businesses, in the rural communities of St. Kitts, also formed a critical component of the project. Activities of the project included extensive field work, analysis of survey data, training for strengthening human resource capacity, the production of a business template and the development of a business plan that outlined the potential areas for investment in rural communities.
The Report recommendations, among other things, called for the development of policy frameworks to create and foster formal and informal linkages between the agricultural and tourism sectors. It also called for the development and implementation of campaigns to increase interest in Tourism among farmers; Agro-eco tourism among traditional tourism companies and entrepreneurs; and Agro-eco tourism attractions and activities among tourists. Additionally, the document called for the continued development of the island’s “unique selling point” – that feature or attraction that differentiated it from its competitors. It also suggested that St. Kitts should consider its preferred focus in terms of future product and market development.
The consultant to the project was Sarah Nicholls, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Departments of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resources Studies (CARRS) and Geography at Michigan States University in the U.S.A. The Project Coordinator was Mr. Gene Knight, Head of the Policy and Planning Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture.