Dr. Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis expressed good news for the agricultural sector in the federation in his 2018 Budget Address at the sitting of National Assembly on December 6.
Prime Minister Harris attributed part of the growth in the agricultural sector to the increase in fishing and crop sub-sectors, which were expanded by 72.6 and 4.3 percent respectively. He noted that the government invested into the transformation of the fishing industry from an artisanal industry to one that is commercialized.
“My Team Unity Government has long acknowledged the benefits of establishing linkages between agriculture and other sectors. Substantial work has been undertaken to develop a synergy between agriculture and other sectors,” stated Dr. Harris, while noting that partnerships are important in creating investment incentives for local crop production and growing the agro-processing capacity in the country.
He expressed that the government has initiated negotiations with various hotels within the federation to facilitate the inclusion of more local products on their menus to promote the “buy local, eat local” initiative.
The prime minister said that he is pleased by the responsiveness of many local businesses that have expressed their dedication to sourcing local products, noting in particular, the Park Hyatt’s commitment to buying local.
“I use this opportunity to make special mention to Park Hyatt St. Kitts which has expressed its commitment to purchasing all local produce and has provided the Department of Agriculture with a list of fifty (50) products that the hotel would be interested in sourcing locally,” he stated.
Dr. Harris said that the government, in efforts to meet the high demands of the hotel partnerships, is making investments into the expansion of agricultural production. He noted that in March of this year, work commenced to re-design the structure of the Capisterre Farm to promote a private management structure. This will be done to encourage the cultivation of crops that are not traditionally planted on a commercial scale.
He noted that thus far, approximately five farmers have acquired land and one farmers’ group indicated interest in pursuing crop production at the farm.
“When we have faith in our citizens, confidence in the citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, we see how far they can go,” said Dr. Harris.