NIA expands efforts to achieve food security goals; Commercial farmers get help

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Hon. Agriculture Minister Alexis Jeffers (left) and Propagation Officer Mrs. Rhonda Vyphius (right) show seedlings to Mr. Mike Browne, one of 12 commercial farmers, May 31, 2022

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NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (June 2, 2022) — In its quest to ensure a steady supply of farm produce for consumers, the Nevis Department of Agriculture presented 12 commercial farmers with a combined total of 105 trays of tomato and pepper plants.

The donation, which was one of the last activities of Agriculture Awareness Month 2022, was made at the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Propagation Unit in Prospect on May 31, 2022. It also included 24 bags fertilizer.

Hon. Nevis Island Authority (NIA) Agriculture Minister Alexis Jeffers, who was present at the presentation, said it was part of the NIA’s growing efforts to ensure food security on the island.

“Over the past couple of years we have stepped up our efforts in terms of manufacturing seedlings and the normal inputs needed to plant and produce here on the island of Nevis…

“You’ve heard the words food security and sustainability come up all the time when we speak, but most of the time the action isn’t there to support those words. We have changed that in many ways in that we are now proving to you that we are ready to put our efforts behind this whole push for food security and sustainability here on the island of Nevis,” he said.

Minister Jeffers also expressed hope that the gesture would result in lower cost availability for consumers and called on farmers to take heed.

“We’re showing these seedlings this morning…and we’re doing it with the hope that three things can happen in the short or long term, if I had to put it that way, in that we’ll have the availability of tomatoes and peppers, access to these products as well and also, they should be affordable when all is said and done.

“So I want to incentivize our farmers to produce, yes, but also to keep consumers in mind by making sure that they pass on the savings that we give you to our consumers,” he said.

The farmers selected for the distribution are: Mr. Mike Browne; Mr. Lorne Hanley; Mr. Clive Hamilton; Mr. Kimale Love; Mr. Lestin Nicholas; Mrs. Deslyn Sturge; Mrs. Lauriel Smithen; Mrs. Zhareyaa Morton; Mrs. Merla Barzey; Mr. Dan Liburd, Mr. Dave Bedford; Mr. Daniel Arthurton and Mr. Glenville Isles.

In response to the donation, farmer Mike Brown, who spoke on behalf of his counterparts, said the road ahead was difficult, but he is optimistic the program will succeed.

“We are grateful as farmers to be able to receive donations from you in terms of seedlings for farmers for [Agriculture] Awareness month.

” The road is long. It’s hard but as we go forward; we can do great things and expect great things in the future. I just want to say thank you everyone, and God is good. Thank you!” he said.

Agriculture Department Director Randy Elliott said the exercise will also serve as a planning tool for the department’s crop forecast.

“The goal is for our farmers to get into the rhythm of the forecast, get into the rhythm of the coordination and work together to make sure these products are always on the shelves here on Nevis at an affordable price for people to consume. …

“So we hope that farmers will take that into account, land them and ensure that they achieve maximum yield,” he said.

Mr. Elliott also thanked the selected farmers who he said voluntarily agreed to be part of the scheme. The extension team who selected the farmers and the Plant Propagation Unit staff who worked tirelessly to meet the various deadlines were also commended for their efforts.

Mr. Huey Sargeant, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, who chaired the event, expressed hope that the project would be a success.

“I think 105 pepper and tomato trees, we are looking for over the next 2 ½ months, that we wouldn’t have to import any tomatoes or sweet peppers onto the island of Nevis because, based on the calculations which would have been made by our Extension team, this meets the demand for what is consumed regularly here on the island.

“So I trust and hope that we will all work together and ensure that these seedlings grow into fruitful trees to produce the food we need on the island of Nevis,” he said.

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