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Agricultural Self-Sufficiency with the 25 by 25 Agenda

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BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Thursday 15th February 2024)- In a move towards agricultural self-sufficiency and economic resilience, the Ministry of Agriculture in St. Kitts has launched an ambitious initiative aimed at reducing the nation’s food import bill by twenty-five percent by the year 2025.

This initiative, known as the 25 by 25 Agenda, seeks to leverage the local farming community’s potential to increase the production of key crops within the Federation.

At the heart of this initiative are four primary crops: watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. These were selected for their viability and demand within the local market, with the goal of not only meeting domestic needs but also exploring export opportunities.

On Wednesday 7th February 2024, Ministry officials, including Minister of Agriculture Samal Duggins, Permanent Secretary Miguel Flemming and Director Jeanelle Kelly convened a meeting with local farmers specializing in the production of sweet peppers and tomatoes. This gathering, dubbed the 25 by 25 Crop Farmer Commodity Meeting, served as a platform to detail the Crop Production Agenda and foster collaboration between the government and the agricultural sector.

The Department of Agriculture is committed to supporting these farmers by providing essential inputs necessary for the successful implementation of the Crop Production Agenda. This support underscores the ministry’s comprehensive strategy, which encompasses the entire value chain from production to market.

Minister Duggins emphasized the strategic nature of this initiative, stating, “Our phased approach to the 25 by 25 agenda is designed to ensure that we cover every aspect of the value chain, enhancing our agricultural sector’s efficiency and productivity.” He further highlighted the potential for surplus production, which opens up avenues for agricultural trade with neighboring islands such as St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and the British Virgin Islands.

“This means that once we satisfy our local demand, we can extend our reach to neighboring markets, providing what they need and further strengthening our agricultural sector,” Minister Duggins explained. This vision for export aligns with the ministry’s objective of not just achieving food security but also becoming a key player in the regional agricultural market.

The ministry has also been engaging with local market leaders to ensure alignment between the crops produced and the market demand, ensuring that the efforts of farmers are both effective and profitable.

In recognition of their commitment to the 25 by 25 Agenda, the farmers participating in Wednesday’s meeting received certificates, marking their integral role in this national endeavor.

Of note, this initiative not only aims to reduce the import bill but also to empower local farmers, stimulate the economy, and promote environmental sustainability through increased local food production. Through strategic planning, collaboration, and support, St. Kitts is on a promising path to achieving its 25 by 25 goal, setting a precedent for agricultural innovation and resilience in the Caribbean.

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