The Department of Agriculture continues to provide the technical support that is needed to ensure that the citizens and residents of the Federation are food and nutritionally secured through various initiatives and programmes. The Agricultural Resource Management Project will continue the erection of shade/greenhouses and the construction of water harvesting dams. Resultantly, food production can be improved significantly with the use of these technologies are expected to increase food production through the control of pests and diseases by exclusion from the shade/greenhouses and extending the growing season and harvesting season by making water available for supplemental irrigation for part of the dry season.
The “Promotion of Breadfruit and Breadnut Development in St. Kitts-Nevis” continues. This project that was executed through collaboration with the FAO of the United Nations has resulted in the creation of products such as breadfruit ice cream, breadfruit flour, breadfruit chips and sticks. The breadfruit is rich in many vital B-complex groups of vitamins, minerals, potassium and fibre. The health benefits are a central drive of the Department of Agriculture, in its ongoing education and awareness campaign as to the use of the breadfruit as a staple in local diets. Another collaborative effort which began in 2015 with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is the “Technical Assistance to promote Agricultural Diversification towards the reduction of the Food Import Bill of selected crops – Onions and Cole Crops (cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower).
” The Department will continue to conduct a Farmers’ Field School Training with farmers from around the island to enhance their agronomic practices. The expected outcome of these training sessions will be a 10% increase in the production of Cole Crops and onions resulting in a 5-10% decrease in importation of such crops to the Federation. In addition, this can increase rural development such as employment etc.
The Ministry has embarked on a Vegetable, Fruit and Upland Crop Quality and Safety Improvement Project which comprises four components. These are Pesticide Management, Soil Sampling, Composting and Rapid Bioassay Testing for Pesticides Residues. The recently constructed laboratory with assistance from the Republic of China on Taiwan, was designed to enhance local production value of fruits, vegetables and upland crops.
This new facility will detect the levels of pesticide residue in our soils impacting on the quality of fruits, vegetables and upland crops being grown in our Federation. It is expected that the average yields per unit for fruits and vegetables crops would increase by 10%; that food safety assurance will improve; and that farmers will become more competitive in the local and regional market.