Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 15, 2015 (SKNIS)—Boosting pineapple and cassava production in St. Kitts can present several opportunities for the agriculture sector and economy at large, says Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Eugene Hamilton.
Minister Hamilton, who was a guest on the weekly Government radio programme “Working for You,” was addressing a question of Capisterre Farm in St. Pauls, which was designed as an agribusiness model in St. Kitts. Capisterre Farms, the minister noted, has not fulfilled its goal. The Agriculture Ministry, Minister Hamilton said, believes that if Capisterre Farms is not fulfilling its role, that there should be focus on two main agricultural products—pineapple and cassava.
“There is a great gap, deficit of the quantity of pineapples we consume in St. Kitts and what we grow,” he said, adding that more should also be produced to be exported to St. Maarten.
“I’m pushing my team to consider development of several acres of cassava…because the time has come for us to stop importing flour…We must put a quantity of local cassava in our bread. I want to re-orient the bakers in St. Kitts to put cassava as part of the component in our bread. We have to begin encouraging our people to use local. Everything we seem to want to import; cassava is a healthy product…than the flour that we import,” the minister asserted. He acknowledged, however, that even though the focus is on two produce, the production approach should be “one step at a time.” He also noted that the plan is to do this production at Capisterre Farm and if not, on another plot of land.
Capisterre Farm, is a 113-acre farm established to create employment for displaced sugar workers and help achieve the goal of food security. Established in March 2010, Capisterre Farm is funded by SIDF with a total investment of EC$7,000,000 slated to be disbursed over five years.
The agriculture minister stressed that the ideal situation is for St. Kitts and Nevis to produce more and rely less on foreign food imports. He argued that St. Kitts and Nevis has not replaced the foreign exchange earnings from the closure of the sugar industry while making a case for increased productivity for export.
“If we are going to be importing from outside, we need foreign exchange…we have to produce goods that we can market outside to get foreign exchange so that we can buy,” Minister Hamilton said. “Production in agriculture is an important element for sustenance of our people as well as exporting to get foreign exchange.”