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Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 25, 2019 (SKNIS): The grounds of the Department of Agriculture in St. Kitts came alive on Thursday, April 25, with the start of the 2019 Agriculture Open Day, an event held annually to showcase local produce and products, as well as to give local vendors an opportunity to generate income.

The highly-anticipated two-day (April 25-26) event, which is held under the theme “Food Security for our Country”, commenced with an opening ceremony at the Department of Agriculture Conference Room at LaGuerite.

Director of Agriculture, Melvin James, commented on the theme, which was adopted for the department’s work programme for the 2019 calendar year. 

“When you view the exhibition you will see our efforts at food security by having commodities with extended shelf life like flour made from local materials like breadfruit and pumpkin; cassava mash which can be dehydrated to extend its shelf life; fries or chips from sweet potato; dehydrated fruits, and locally made cheese from goat milk,” said the director, adding that “there will also be a range of products that speaks to our ability and efforts at sustaining ourselves”.

Mr. James said that everyone should play his or her part to help St. Kitts and Nevis achieve food security.

“For our food security, we need to convert to long term storage in large quantities. We produce a lot and at the end of the production season a lot goes to waste and/or there is not enough conversion, whether it is agro-processing or storage,” he said. “We also need to commercialize our local technologies and very importantly also, to increase local fresh produce. “If indeed we are going to be food secure as our theme says, we cannot be only excited about the good showing that we will have today, but we need to be mindful of the challenges that we have from day to day – the difficulty especially in marketing our produce.”

Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, shared similar sentiments and noted that the ministry is playing its part to ensure that St. Kitts and Nevis achieves food security.

“Embedded in our theme is food security as healthy food for all. That is why and what we are in agriculture, striving to achieve through our many projects that we implement. It is what we try to achieve through the resources we employ. It is what we try to achieve through the work we do as a government, supporting the farming community,” said Minister Hamilton. “When all people at all times have physical access and or economic access to adequate amounts of nutritious, safe and appropriate food to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, we would have attained food security for all.”

The 2019 edition of Agriculture Open Day features an exhibition by a special delegation from the Republic of China (Taiwan) who travelled to St. Kitts to participate in the annual event.

The ceremony was attended by the Governor General, His Excellency Sir. S.W. Tapley Seaton, as well as Government officials including Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris; Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Lindsay Grant, and the Honourable Alexis Jeffers, Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA). His Excellency Tom Lee, Taiwan’s Resident Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis, several permanent secretaries, representatives of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), staff of trade missions and other specially invited guests were also in attendance.

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