Photo: (Right) A member of the St.Kitts Back Yard Gardening Association (SKBYGA) interacts with a visitor at the 2018 Agriculture Open Day used for illustration purposes relating to this article. (Spokesman Snap)

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 22nd October 2021)- Federal Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources Alexis Jeffers is of the view that “We need agriculture now more than ever.”

He made the statement on Tuesday 19th October 2021 during an episode of ‘Leadership Matters’ aired on ZIZ under the theme ‘Improving The Agricultural and Fisheries Sectors-Strategies For Reformation And Growth.’

According to him: “At this point in our history, and at this point in the development of agriculture, urgent questions demand innovative ways of thinking, organizing, problem solving and action.  To ensure healthy and nutritious foods for all in a post COVID world of increasing threats such as pests and diseases, conflicts and climate change, we have to disrupt the status quo and be proactive about the future we want to create.”

He reflected on the theme for this year’s World Food Day-observed on 16th Oct- ‘Our actions are our future, Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life’ and stated: “This particular theme that has been chosen this year is in alignment with our core principles of our strategic approach which will bring about wholesome development of our people while promoting the agricultural sector.”

The Agriculture Minister went on to say: “Now more than ever we have to produce more. Now more than ever we have to look within and see what we can do to feed ourselves and to ensure that we are providing a secure future for our people.  We cannot depend solely on importation of goods that we can certainly produce here within the Federation of St.Kitts and Nevis so now more than ever, we have to look to agriculture. We need agriculture now more than ever and I have said in the past and I continue to say, in and of itself agriculture does not need us; we need agriculture and the importance of agriculture has to be seen from all levels by all classes and all who live within the Federation.”

“We have to ensure that we are including all of our young men and women and also our children at the primary school and high school level. Teaching our young men and women the art form of agriculture or the role that agriculture should play would make them much more inclined to embrace the importance of agriculture in moving forward,” he noted.

Minster Alexis continued: “It is my humble opinion that despite our country’s impressive and enviable advances across the economy whether it be the private sector development, financial services, infrastructural development, strengthening of our social services network or even public sector service delivery, agriculture still remains an important factor in the development of our nation and the key to creating equitable and sustainable growth for our people.”

He outlined that none of the larger countries such as the United States, Canada or European countries have ever achieved meaningful growth in their agricultural sector or otherwise without modernizing the agricultural sector and most importantly implementing policies as to how the sector should be managed.

“The importance of agriculture to this nation has been brought into sharp focus since the onset of COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2020. Now more than ever we’re seeing the importance of placing greater security, innovation in agriculture, adaptation and resilience to climate change, price shocks and sustainability in food production and our food systems,” he stated.

The Agriculture Minister said further: “There is no doubt in my mind that  we can see transformation and growth  in the agriculture sector that  realizes  significant increase in job  creation, revenue generation  and a sustainable livelihood  for our farmers and citizens on a whole. However, for this to happen, we must get the support of all government ministries, our farmers and farmers organization or allied agencies, the private sector, the media and civil society  and all whose interests  and future depend on this important sector.”

“Simply put, we need all hands on deck to ensure our transformation and growth strategy can and will work,” he advised.