The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Marine Resources and Cooperatives is taking steps to significantly reduce the massive food import bill of St. Kitts and Nevis, which stands at over EC$140 million per year.

While delivering a televised address in commemoration of World Food Day on October 16, the Honourable Samal Duggins, Minister responsible for Agriculture, Fisheries, Marine Resources and Cooperatives, said that reducing the food import bill is a matter that relates directly to food security.

“For a more specific response to the path of food security and food safety in St. Kitts and Nevis, we have committed to the 25 by 25 agenda, which will see major food import reductions,” he said.

The 25 by 25 agenda calls for a 25 percent reduction in the food import bill by 2025. The resulting economic spin-offs are expected to see an increase in local spending that will positively impact farmers, encouraging greater food production, increasing employment opportunities and fostering higher investment in the sector.

Minister Duggins outlined several measures that the government will undertake in pursuit of the three-year sector goal.

“I am excited to announce our plans to convert rain-fed farms to timely irrigated fields by the construction of additional water catchment systems. We are also endeavouring to increase the number of functional greenhouses nationally through the construction of what we have dubbed ‘greenhouse villages,’” Honourable Duggins stated. “We are also proud of our plans in the area of livestock, where we will improve protection and housing systems for animals. Indeed, we can never forget our most critical resource – our people, and as such, we will continue training staff, to improve technical support, that would better serve our fishers, farmers, and cooperative groups.”

Appreciation was expressed to regional and international agencies that partner with St. Kitts and Nevis to build resilient agri-food systems. Partners mentioned include the Taiwan Technical Mission, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as well as the Japan Internal Cooperation Agency.

World Food Day was observed under the theme “Leave NO ONE behind.” A number of activities are being held locally this week to commemorate the occasion including a panel discussion on October 18, food heroes prize giving on October 20, a night market on October 21, and a food fair on October 22.