BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 18, 2023 (SKNIS) – The Honourable Samal Duggins said that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Marine Resources and Cooperatives, which he leads, continues its thrust towards achieving CARICOM’s 25 percent by 2025 Agenda which is aimed at reducing the high regional food import bill.
“In 2020, CARICOM would have adopted the 25 by 2025 Agenda, and in 2022, three days after I would have taken office, I had the chance to visit Trinidad where we had discussions about that agenda and our input into that agenda. The sad thing is you recognize you wouldn’t have heard about the agenda before 2022 and I find that to be a travesty because it means then that we had really no buy-in from St. Kitts and Nevis into the CARICOM agenda,” Minister Duggins stated during the Prime Minister’s Press Conference on Thursday, May 18.
The implementation of the CARICOM Agri-Food Systems Strategy in the Member States is expected to help achieve the 25 by 25 target by giving special attention to priority crops and products such as poultry, corn, soya, meat (goat, sheep, beef), rice and niche vegetables which are highly imported products in the region.
Minister Duggins said his ministry is hard at work, holding consultations with the relevant stakeholders as it prepares to launch a comprehensive plan that will clearly outline St. Kitts and Nevis’ approach towards the CARICOM Agenda.
“I’m confident to say that we have since then spent some time analyzing the data because with anything you have to know where you are and where you’ve been to construct properly where you’re going, and in analyzing the data we see a clear path forward for us to be a success story in that 25 by 2025 agenda,” the minister said.
He added, “We have met with livestock farmers; we have met with the fisherfolk, and we are meeting with the crop farmers next week [May 24] and our plan coming out of those meetings would be to collate all that data and properly fashion our way forward, which we would launch in July.”
In addition, the Honourable Minister pointed to several projects that are expected to come on stream shortly that will further help to lower the Federation’s food import bill, including the construction of a fish processing facility.
Minister Duggins said, “We also had the support of the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for a hatchery which will increase our ability and improve our capacity in the area of poultry which would again help us to reduce imports. We are also launching our greenhouse villages and we plan to break ground on that in July. Along with that, we are now instituting a Drought Resilience Project considering where we are currently. We are suffering one of the worse droughts in the last 20-30 years and that is impacting our agricultural sector. I met with the prime minister last week and we met with finance and the Water Department to bring all stakeholders together to ensure we bring a proper and sustainable approach to drought management.”
The Honourable Samal Duggins said once his ministry completes its series of meetings to hear directly from the persons on the ground, they would put together “a very comprehensive plan which we would highlight and launch this coming July.”