The Honourable Samal Duggins, newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Marine Resources, Cooperatives, Creative Economy and Entrepreneurship, met with staff at both Departments of Agriculture and Marine Resources during a special walkthrough-styled meet and greet on Tuesday 23rd August.
Upon his arrival, Director of the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Lesroy Henry, led the Minister to the various units in the Department at La Guerite, Director of Marine Resources, Dr. Marc Williams welcomed the Minister and introduced him to the staff at Marine Resources while Manager of the Basseterre Fisheries Complex, Asim Jenkins showcased the operations of the multifaceted facility.
The Honourable Minister shared words of encouragement with all the staff and highlighted the areas he intends for the ministry to focus on. The discussions held provided the Minister with insights and recommendations on how to boost and enhance the agricultural and fisheries sector.
During the walkthrough, the Minister also used the opportunity to remind the Heads of Departments present that it is their responsibility to work together as a team to deliver the aims and objectives of the Ministry for the benefit of the entire nation.
Minister Duggins said he felt pleased with the discussions and noted why the staff visit was timely.
He said, “I must say it’s been a wonderful tour especially on the heels of my trip to Trinidad where I participated in the CARICOM Agri Expo 2022 and the dialogues that we had there. I’m excited to get started here to work because there’s so much to do given the ultimate target that was set by CARICOM to reduce our food import bill by 25% by 2025”.
According to the CARICOM Sustainable Import Replacement Programme 2022 Report, the implementation of the Agri-Food Systems Strategy in the Member States, is expected to help achieve this 25% target by giving special attention to priority crops and products such as poultry, corn, soya, meats including goat, beef and mutton. The priority list also targets rice and niche vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, red cabbage, lettuce, tomato and carrots which are highly imported products in the region.
While speaking on reducing the food import bill, the Honourable Samal Duggins said he felt “very confident that the 25 by 25 will be met” in St. Kitts and Nevis and added, “we currently stand in about 15% production for our entire consumption. We need to move that bill down and my goal as a Minister and indeed the objective of the ministries that I preside in
Agriculture and Fisheries is to exceed that target and now see where we can do that because I see we have competent staff to do it, we do have fertile lands to do it and it’s just a matter now of applying the right technical and financial resources to achieve the goal”.
According to Minister Duggins, the visits were a prelude to more detailed meetings with the individual sections of the Ministry which will be held shortly.
The tour wrapped up with visits to other respective ministries that now fall under his purview. -END-