40-Year Farming Veteran Grows Watermelon for First Time Noting Inspiration From 25 By 25 Agenda

(MOA Basseterre, St. Kitts):

Veteran Crop Farmer Andy Caines of Conaree is proudly embarking on a new journey of growing watermelons for the first time in his four-decade-long farming livelihood.

He said after decades of planting cassava, pigeon peas, okra and pumpkin, his decision to grow watermelons was largely influenced by the Department of Agriculture’s ongoing Crop Production initiative, which forms part of the St. Kitts Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources’ 25 by 25 Agenda. This ambitious program aims to reduce the nation’s food import bill by 25% by the year 2025, encouraging local farmers to explore and cultivate new crops by using more climate-resilient and sustainable methods of farming to boost crop production on the island.

In a recent interview with the Ministry’s Media and Communication Unit, Caines revealed that as part of this initiative, the Department provided him with 1200 high-quality watermelon seedlings, drip irrigation tools and plastic mulch commonly known as ground cover to ensure he had the resources needed to succeed in this new endeavour. This was also his first time using this material on his farm.

He stated, “This is the first time I’m using the matting and the first time planting watermelon because I agreed to participate in the 25 by 25 program so I need to plant watermelon, so I will continue to plant watermelon. The benefit of the ground cover is that you use less water, you have no weeding and it’s not so much of work because before I used it there or so I had three- or four-[days] weeding before I start to harvest.”

Caines who also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture added that this initiative provided him with the opportunity to cultivate nearly ten thousand pounds of watermelons.

As Crop Farmer Andy Caines embarks on this new chapter, his success symbolizes the potential for growth and transformation within the agricultural sector while also emphasizing how the 25 by 25 Agenda initiative propels food producers closer to achieving the government’s goal of a more sustainable and self-reliant food system in St. Kitts and Nevis.

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