Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance told the Nevis Island Assembly that with agriculture playing a major role in the Nevis economy, farmers need to modernise from traditional approaches to more efficient and productive farming methods.
He said this while presenting his 2019 Draft Budget to Assembly President Hon Farrel Smithen on December 5 at Hamilton House.
He said that at the start of this political term, his government took the bold decision to pair the Office of Disaster Management with the Ministry of Agriculture. He said that this was a strategic move to harmonise the synergies between both units of government.
“We are all aware that this sector to a large extent predominantly engages in traditional outdoor farming techniques. The recent experiences of our neighbours in Dominica,” he said.
“Anguilla, St. Maarten and the Virgin Islands give a clear indication of the disastrous effect that natural disasters can have on our agricultural industry whether it be backyard farming or large acreage farming,” he added.
“We firmly believe that the implementation of sound disaster mitigation practices by our farmers will ultimately have a positive impact on output and enhance our ability to provide a sustained supply of food items for our population.”
Hon Brantley said the role of youth is important to emphasize as part of business development across the sector.
“The Ministry will continue to work closely with the Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU) to gain the necessary business training and support for persons involved in the Agricultural sector,” Brantley explained. “It has always been the policy of this Administration to recognise our farmers as business persons operating a viable and important niche market rather than persons merely engaging in causal practices.
“I am happy to report that during this fiscal year a number of persons engaged in the Agricultural sector benefitted from training and exposure through various workshops organised by SEDU in the area of canning and fermenting of agricultural products.
“These persons were also exposed to various techniques to use by-products of their farms to make health related products such as body oils, body sprays, insect repellents and therapeutic rubs for muscle and joint pains.