Mr. Mc Levon “Mackie” Tross, one of the island’s leading farmers in the use of greenhouse technology on Nevis, has underscored the need for farmers on the island to be treated with greater respect.
Mr. Tross, who was the featured speaker at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Agenda 2021 forum at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall on January 19, 2021, spoke on the issue while delivering the featureaddress before stakeholders in the agriculture sector on Nevis.
“The landscape of our farmers is changing. Farmers are entrepreneurs, yes, business people who are responsible for feeding our nation and must be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.
Mr. Tross who is also the owner and manager of A-1Farms at Gingerland, noted that there is also a need to educate farmers to better position them to achieve greater yields and returns on their investments.
“There is a need to educate our farmers on the use of proper record and bookkeeping; crop yield estimation, cost of production and return on investment calculations.
“This can be achieved through the Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU) and the Department of Agriculture. We must utilise our allied agencies Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and Taiwanese if we do not have the skill set in house,” he said.
Mr. Tross also expressed the need for greater knowledge on the importance of agriculture, not only for farmers but the entire nation including every preschooler.
He also spoke of the significance of technology in the agriculture sector, acknowledging that opportunities to enhance productivity can be found in new and emerging technologies which can help farmers adapt to an ever-changing environment.
“Technology can provide the Agricultural industry with tools and information to make more informed decisions and improve productivity. Technology includes Digital Agriculture, Green House Production, Hydroponic practices, exploring the use of tissue culture, etc.
Digital Agriculture, Mr. Tross explained, is the use of digital technology to integrate agricultural production from the farm to the consumer.
“Digital technologies have the potential to provide farmers with the information and ability to meet these challenges and seize opportunities for growth,” he said, adding that it also enables improved traceability of agricultural products, providing peace of mind for consumers and increased value for farmers.
The forum was the third in a series hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture for stakeholders in the agriculture sector to enable the ministry to report on the past year and to chart the course for the ensuing year.
Among those present at the forum were Hon. Mark. Brantley, Premier of Nevis; Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture; Mr. Randy Elliott, Director of the Department of Agriculture; Mr. Floyd Liburd, Deputy Director; Mr. Steve Reid, Chief Extension Officer; Mr. Ron Dublin Collins, Federal Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Agriculture; Ms. Sharon Jones, IICA Representative; and Mr. Kistian Flemming, CARDI Representative.