BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, June 3, 2021 (MMS-SKN) — Fishers and farmers continue to do well in their trade as a result of a Team Unity Government’s direct intervention which has offered and continues to offer them stimulus packages, and Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris is pleading with the general public to support them by buying local produce.
“I want to remind all of us to continue, or to start if we haven’t yet been doing so, to support our farmers and fishers by buying local produce,” said Prime Minister Harris. “At the same time I want to remind our farmers and fishers to do the best they can on prices and quality. It is always a good strategy at times to reduce the price, and make your customers happier. Long live our farmers and fishers.”
Prime Harris made the remarks on Thursday June 3, when he hosted the Prime Minister’s Monthly Press Conference at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) conference room, in Lime Kiln, West Basseterre, where he updated citizens and residents on important matters of state.
According to the Honourable Prime Minister, overall fish landings over the period January to April 2021 totalled 275,000 pounds with a value of just over three million dollars, which represents an 87 percent increase from the previous year 2020 when fish landings were just under 150,000 pounds for the same period, January to April, with a value of $1.2 million.
“For this year then, the first four months, we are recording a near threefold increase in dollar value of fish landed here,” said Prime Minister Harris. “I want to commend the Ministry of Agriculture and our Director of Marine Resources, Dr Marc Williams, who is here with us today.”
Representing the Ministry of Agriculture at the Press Conference was Permanent Secretary Mr Ron Dublin-Collins. In attendance included Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Shawn Richards, Federal Ministers the Hon Jonel Powell, the Hon Lindsay Grant, the Hon Vincent Byron Jr., the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett, the Hon Eric Evelyn, and the Hon Wendy Phipps.
In the period January to April for the comparative period (2020 vs. 2021) reef and demersal fishery increased by 97 percent, coastal pelagic fishery increased by 70 percent, ocean pelagic fishery decreased by 7 percent, conch fishery increased by 26 percent. The most significant increase was lobster production, which increased by 334 percent over the same period, January to April.
“The number of registered fishers stood at an all-time high at 1,277 at end of April 2021,” reported Dr Harris. “I want to repeat, that in this our small Federation we have 1,277 registered fishers. The statistics as at the end of April 2021, represented an addition of 102 registered fishers over the total at same period ending April 2020.”
The Honourable Prime Minister added: “These, in my view, are positive signs of a fisheries sector on the rise aided by my Government’s stimulus packages which have assisted fishers with fishing gears including fish pot wires, fish aggregate devices and many other supports.”
During the period under review, Dr Harris reported that overall the livestock production increased by approximately 66 percent in 2021 when compared to the comparative period of 2020. The combined value of livestock commodities increased from just under $500,000 in 2020 to $760,322 in 2021.
“Again we are looking at the first quarter in the context of livestock output,” he stated. “The increase was attributed to the provision of resources made available through the Covid-19 stimulus package for the agricultural sector, and we have extended that stimulus by five million dollars for the Budget Year 2021.”
But while overall crop production in the period January to April 2021 fell by about 10 percent, the Honourable Prime Minister however pointed out that significant gains were realised in cabbage, cantaloupe, onion, sweet potato, tomato, watermelon, and yam production, while Cucumber production remained steady.