By: Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Address
The following is an address by Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) to launch Agriculture Awareness Month 2021. Greetings fellow citizens and residents, The Ministry of Agriculture is once again happy to be able to observe another Agriculture Awareness Month. This year makes the 9th edition of this observance, and it is designed to bring about a sharper focus on the impact of agriculture on our community.
Indeed, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there has been a renaissance of sorts as countries have paid greater attention to the security and sustainability of their food supply. Here in Nevis over the last 20 months, the Ministry of Agriculture would have assisted every subsector of farming with various inputs. For example: we have seen the distribution of fencing wire, free water, the distribution of fishing wire, distribution of seeds and seedlings, distribution of animal feed, assistance with labour and many more.
In the coming weeks we will, as part of a federal initiative, distribute some five green houses as we continue to ensure our food and nutrition security goals are achieved. Our theme for this month is “Eat Locally Boost Immunity.” This theme is considerate of the current world pandemic and in the knowledge that once you consume nutritionally rich foods, our bodies will be fortified to combat not only COVID-19 but most other conditions that affect us. This theme is also done with the wider understanding and knowledge that agriculture and food supply initiatives must be done in synchronicity with health and wellness goals of our country. The theme and aim is not merely for people to be healthy. We want persons to be productive members of the Nevisian community. The Nevis Island Administration through the Ministry of Agriculture would have increased the budgetary allocations to agriculture in the 2021 budget cycle, and as a result are pouring resources into the sector to support farmers and farming. I am sure within the recent past, ordinary members of the community would have noticed the interest, investment and involvement, and also would have seen increased availability of locally produced items. At this stage I want to urge us all to keep the momentum, as the goal is to eliminate in some cases the importation of fresh food items and in other cases to significantly reduce. We have come up with several activities to celebrate Agriculture Awareness Month and we trust that through the execution of these activities we can further inspire support for the sector. The month of activities will be fully advertised and published throughout the month but some of the activities planned are as follows: We will start with a Farmers’ Market on Friday, May 7th. There will be a Livestock Farmer’s Outreach activity, the launch of a Vet Services informercial. There will be a sale on Market Street in Charlestown. We will also see a Banana Management Workshop being held. The commissioning of a new chill facility at Prospect, a Farmers and Staff Awards Ceremony to close out the month plus many more activities. I trust that we can have as much participation and support as possible as we reach our livestock [farmers], crop farmers, fisher folks and agro-processors. We believe and continue to push the idea that we can feed ourselves on this island and thus reducing the [food] import bill, while at the same time ensuring that our population continues to have a nutritionally rich food source both for health and productivity of our country. I take this opportunity to officially launch this month of activities dubbed Agriculture Awareness Month 2021. May God continue to bless our people and may God continue to bless our country. I thank you.
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