BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, August 12, 2020 (MMS-SKN) — Cooperative sector has a lot of scope and potential for export to the neighbouring islands and further afield, and the new Minister of Cooperatives the Hon Eric Evelyn is looking for support from his Cabinet colleagues to move the sector forward.
“I must say that in terms of my vision for the cooperatives sector, I think that there is a lot that can be done – there is a lot of potential and scope for the cooperatives on St. Kitts,” said the Hon Evelyn on Tuesday August 11 at the Prime Minister’s monthly Conference which was held at the NEMA conference room in Lime Kiln, West Basseterre.
The Honourable Minister, who also holds the Environment portfolio, was responding to comments made by a journalist on his visit to the Agro Strip near Ponds Pasture on Friday June 26 where he met and held discussions with farmers who sell fresh farm produce five days a week, Mondays to Fridays.
“I was so impressed with what I saw in terms of the quality of the produce on the Agro Strip that I believe with the resurgent that we have seen in the agriculture sector here in St. Kitts and in Nevis, we must have the cooperatives sector being developed alongside the agricultural sector,” said Hon Evelyn.
According to Minister Evelyn, he intends to have a lot of collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the cooperatives in St. Kitts as they have a lot in terms of what they need to be done. He noted that he has been told of some legitimate challenges, and he promised he would be looking towards the support of his Cabinet colleagues in moving the cooperatives sector forward.
“There is a lot that can be done in terms of here in St. Kitts, and Nevis as well, and I think there is a lot of scope and potential for export as well to our neighbouring islands and further afield,” said the Hon Evelyn. “There is a lot that can be done in terms of agriculture, fisheries, agro-processing, and beekeeping. Because of the fact that I have worked with cooperatives in the past, I know that the cooperatives they have some concerns and we must be able to work with them to get over those concerns – to get over those humps and to move the sector forward.”
Minister Evelyn noted that he would have had some discussions on the Agro Strip with the members of the cooperatives there, including the President of Agro-Processors Cooperatives on St. Kitts. He also met and had in-depth discussions with the Director of Cooperatives Mr Clyde Thompson, as well as the Permanent Secretary in his Ministry, Mrs Sharon Rattan.
Last week, the Cooperatives Minister added, there was a session at the Department of Cooperatives with Senior Projects Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr Gene Knight, who has been working with developing a new five-year strategic plan for the movement of the cooperatives sector on the island of St. Kitts.
He however lamented the fact that the cooperative spirit is somewhat lacking in some of the sectors in terms of fisheries and beekeeping. He pleaded: “We must get it back because there is a lot that can be done by the cooperatives themselves rather than just sitting back and waiting for the government or the departments to do everything.”
In conclusion, the Hon Evelyn said: “The cooperatives themselves can do a lot, and there is a lot of funding out there and the funding can only be gotten once people band themselves in cooperatives. So I will be creating that push from the ministerial level, and I am hoping to get the support from the farmers, the agro-processors, the fishers, and beekeepers as we move the sector forward.”