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Saturday, April 01, 2006 

Growth of Nevis’ agriculture sector due to NIA’s support
Friday March 31 2006

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis – The growth currently being experienced in the agricultural sector on Nevis has been attributed to the direction which the local administration has provided to the sector over the past 12 years.

Premier of Nevis Vance Amory made the comment on Thursday at the official start of a two-day annual agricultural open day, hosted by the Ministry and Department of Agriculture at the Villa in Charlestown.

The theme for the event is “Agribusiness – The Way to go” and the exhibition is being held under the patronage of Ashley Webbe, a farmer who contributed to the development of agriculture on Nevis for almost 50 years.

“I believe that the growth which we have experienced in this involvement and the output in both quantity and quality of products in Nevis is due to the direction which government has provided to this sector – to farmers, fishers and animal producers alike,” he said.

Amory said when his administration took office, the agricultural sector on Nevis was at an all time low and there was a dislocation in the organisation of the industry and, a decision was taken to revamp and reorganise the sector to ensure the survival and development of agriculture.

“We have witnessed steady increase in the production of vegetable crops, an increase in the output of locally produced meat and fish and a significant increase in the support by government for this sector, through training of extension officers and other local support staff,” he said.

He also noted that there had been a renewed involvement of regional technical and professional personnel from agricultural support organisations; and extension and significant involvement of the Republic of China on Taiwan’s technical mission and also an increase in the focus in agriculture by the young people in school.

Amory said the exhibition is testimony to the quality of produce, animals, flowering plants and shrubs; the demonstration of agricultural techniques; the involvement of the private sector; the increasing number of people in cultivation and production of cut flowers – orchids, roses etc., a project initiated by the administration through the Department of Agriculture and the Taiwanese mission; the extension of the growing of pineapples and other perennial crops which could have significant economic benefits for the farmers of Nevis; and the revamping of Sea Island Cotton.

The premier explained that there was money to be made from agriculture and encouraged individuals to use the exhibition to look at the economic benefits for farmers, the health benefits for citizens, agriculture’s link with the tourism industry and all other outcomes which have a very positive impact on Nevis.

Amory took the opportunity to encourage people to buy local and to take advantage of the health benefits. “The quality is better, the produce is better and it is good for you. The price of health cannot be measured only in dollars and cents; it must be measured also in good sense,” he said.

Meantime, Junior Minister of Agriculture Livingston Herbert said there is an increased consciousness about agriculture on Nevis and farmers had become more motivated, which had resulted in the unprecedented transformation of agriculture on the island.

Herbert said although there had been much focus on the youth in agriculture, those who have shouldered the responsibility of agricultural production had not been neglected.

“We have exposed our people to the possibilities in agro-processing and prepared them for the opportunities. Your government has never failed to promote the potential of agriculture.
“The Ministry and Department of Agriculture have encouraged and established linkages between agriculture and other sectors of the economy, especially tourism. These linkages underscore the need for even more tangible support and your party in government responded and established an entrepreneurial development fund to provide financing at concessionary rates for micro, small and medium size enterprises,” he said.

Herbert explained that the administration’s vision has been and continued to be that agriculture was central to the economy of Nevis and linkages had to be established and strengthened if the island had to maximise the benefits to be gained. Notwithstanding, he said the administration was cognisant that the maximisation of benefits required the movement of agriculture into agribusiness.

He said the administration had envisioned the changes taking place in the agricultural sector since June 1992 and as such, its policies and programmes had encouraged and supported the ongoing changes to adapt to the environment in which the island operated.

Regarding the theme for this year’s open day, Herbert said it echoed a clarion call that the time had come to transform agricultural pursuits into viable money making ventures. He said there were a number of opportunities available in agriculture including floriculture and the processing and packaging of local fruit juices and vegetables. He lauded the efforts of people actively involved in agriculture, in particular, those who have already moved to agribusiness.

During the opening ceremony, a number of awards were presented to deserving farmers, the Department’s staff and patron Ashley Webbe. Catherine Seabrookes, a student of the St. Thomas Primary School was presented with her trophy and monetary gift as winner of the open day’s poster contest.

Among those present at the ceremony were Deputy Governor-General Eustace John, President of the Nevis Island Assembly Marjorie Morton, Ambassador John Liu of the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan), IICA representative Augustine Merchant, CARDI’s country team leader Llewellyn Rhodes and Dr. Lawrence Lewis, commissioner of agriculture US Virgin Islands.

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