BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, November 30, 2020 (MMS-SKN) — Federal Minister of Environment and Cooperatives the Hon Eric Evelyn, while observing that there has been a surge in interest in agriculture and commending the growth of cooperatives on the island of St. Kitts, he has also made an appeal for persons on St. Kitts to support the cooperatives by buying local.
Minister Evelyn made the remarks after a tour of Agro Strip 2020 which was held on Friday November 27 on Pond Road in Basseterre under the theme ‘Locally Grown, Locally Owned’.
“I am exceptionally pleased with what is taking place here on the Agro Strip today,” said the Hon Evelyn. “Of course this is something that used to happen previously but we have decided to make it much bigger this year. We know that there has been a surge and there is an increase in interest in agriculture on St. Kitts and we have a number of cooperatives here on St. Kitts and we wanted to in some way promote what they are doing.”
The Honourable Minister said he was pleased with the turnout in terms of the cooperatives that included farmers’ cooperatives, fishermen cooperatives, agro processors cooperatives, credit unions cooperatives, the St. Kitts Taxi Cooperative, and the Craft House. He observed that this year’s Agro Strip was the biggest that has been held, adding that he was over the moon that it was taking place.
“This is what we need – we need to work together,” observed the Hon Evelyn. “That is what cooperatives is all about – togetherness, and we will endeavour for the rest of 2020 and beyond for us to continue to work together. We can move mountains and I want to take this opportunity once again to thank all of you who are taking part and we want to encourage all of St. Kitts, when we have an activity of this nature come out and buy local.”
He thanked the staff of the Ministry and Department of Cooperatives led by Permanent Secretary Ms Sharon Rattan, and Registrar of Cooperatives Mr Clyde Thompson, for having done a marvellous job in putting the event together and promoting it, which he noted will be the springboard of many other such activities to come.
“I am happy as well that the Ministry of Health is here to show the link between local produce and health, because the more local produce you consume, the healthier you will be and the wealth of the nation is based on the health of the nation,” commented Minister Evelyn. “So I am happy for the collaboration today.”
Visiting Agro Strip 2020 included Premier of Nevis the Hon Mark Brantley, Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan, His Excellency Tom Lee, and Ambassador His Excellency Vance Amory. Reigning National Monarch Mr Sylvester Hodge, better known as King Socrates, who attended Agro Strip 2020 in his capacity as President of St. Kitts Taxi Cooperative, performed for the first time his 2020 Senior Calypso Monarch song, ‘Between a rock and a hard place’.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Cooperatives, Ms Sharon Rattan, while welcoming persons to Agro Strip 2020, admitted that it was the first time she was getting so close to people who grow food. She noted she was excited about the quality of the locally grown food and was also enjoying on site cooking taking place.
“With Covid-19, this is the way to go,” said Ms Rattan. “We have to start thinking more deeply and creatively about what we grow, how we eat because what if we can’t get it from overseas? So we are very happy to be featuring them and we are thankful for their cooperation. I am very warmed by the response as all morning – there have been persons shopping constantly especially older folks they have come out early and they have been shopping.”
Registrar of Cooperatives, Mr Clyde Thompson, advised that the Agro Strip was first started about two years ago. It was the idea of members of the various cooperatives, as they wanted an opportunity to bring cooperatives more into focus because they felt like they had something special, something unique, and something meaningful to national development but it needed to get out.
For greater exposure, they identified the area on Pond Road that is close to the road on a strip of land where people can drive by. Mr Thompson noted: “We knocked heads, came up with the idea and it started with a collaborative effort when we were part of the Ministry of Agriculture, and it was held right here thanks to the support of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, and they are pleased with how we have utilised this place.”