Agriculture Officials Stress the Importance of Training Farmers to Utilize Post-Harvest Handling Practices

Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Post-harvest handling practices improve agricultural production, prevent losses and add value to agricultural products. With this in mind, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture said that it is extremely important for farmers to be trained to utilize post-harvest practices.

This was highlighted in the April 12 Edition of Infocus by Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Miguel Flemming, who noted that post-harvest practices play a very important role in crop production as it determines the final product’s quality.

“There is a section in agriculture that we call post-harvest practices and I think there is a need to train farmers in post-harvest, so, how you handle the food from the time you harvest it to when you deliver it to the marketing unit or the buyers,” said PS Flemming. “So, post-harvest handling is something that we need to really look at, and processing as well, because sometimes we overproduce but the market is not readily available and there is a need to organize agriculture.”

PS Flemming said that an important part of ensuring that farmers are properly trained will be tackled via the Agricultural Training School. The implementation of the school was announced by the Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Samal Duggins, during the Prime Minister’s Press Conference with Cabinet Ministers on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

“Once we have the training school, persons who are interested in getting into agriculture and likewise what we are planning to do in terms of restructuring how we distribute land is to ensure that persons are trained before land can be approved for distribution,” said Mr. Flemming. “What I observed when I [returned] from my studies is that we ignore science. [With the school], we will be able to now bring the science directly to the farmers, have a sit down with them and show them certain things so they can get a better understanding. Farmers know how to produce but they don’t understand why things happen and I believe once we are able to show them why things happen, we will have a new set of farmers,” he added.

Head of the Media and Communications Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, Chaira Flanders, shared similar sentiments adding that the training school will be a welcome addition and will be beneficial to farmers, as well as to St. Kitts and Nevis.

“That is extremely important because our farmers and agricultural stakeholders should be able to learn the new techniques and our sustainable practices. Any method that would help to increase production and to bolster food security, I think we would be able to achieve if we are going to begin the establishment of the training,” said Ms. Flanders.

The aim of establishing the Agricultural Training School is to further strengthen the agriculture sector and ensure that farmers receive the necessary training needed to improve their business skills and capacities and boost productivity.

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