Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration
World Food Day Address 2023
October 16, 2023
It is my honour to address you as Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration in observance of World Food Day 2023. World Food Day is a United Nations designated occasion to unite in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
World Food Day is an international day celebrated every year on October 16th to commemorate the date of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.) in 1945. The day is celebrated widely by many other organizations concerned with hunger and food security.
This year, 2023, the theme for the observance is “Water Is Life, Water Is Food. Leave No One Behind”; a theme that recognises the importance of Water in the sustenance of life across the planet. While it is known that much of the planet is water, most of it is inaccessible or not in a condition that allows human consumption.
Here on Nevis one of the greatest challenges to agricultural production is water. The Nevis Water Department must be commended for its efforts over the years in supporting the agriculture sector in its provision of water to farmers as well as government estates, this is also done at concessionary rates. This is in addition to providing potable water to homes, commercial operators, restaurants, and hotels.
Based on the type of agriculture practiced on Nevis:
1. Water is needed for livestock (beef, pork, chicken and mutton production)
2. Water is used at our abattoir during processing as well as cleaning
3. Water is used at our Propagation Unit to start seedlings
4. Water is used in our shade houses
5. Water is used in our open field Agriculture
6. Water is used at our agricultural depot to keep food clean and safe
7. Water is used at our Agro-processing Unit to produce confectionaries and preserves
8. Water is consumed every day by our staff members who are outside delivering service
The Ministry of Agriculture, and by extension the Nevis Island Administration, is interested in ensuring that food is accessible, affordable, and available. We are concerned as well that our food is nutritionally rich and free of chemicals that cause negative health effects. Our overall goal must be aligned with the Ministry of Health, in that we produce food that keeps our seniors, youth, and productive population healthy and contributing to our community.
At this point as we look at the last part of this year’s theme ‘Leave NO One Behind’, I must commend the partnership with the ministry responsible for Social Empowerment, where food vouchers for vulnerable families are being accepted by our various divisions. Fresh meats and meat products from the abattoir, fresh fruits and vegetables from our Larinson Parry Food Depot and items from our Agro-processing Division ranging from snacks and confectionaries, juices, pulps, and flour products are all available for our people.
We continue to support farmers and fishers so that they can continue to provide quality produce for our citizens. The Ministry continues to encourage retailers and vendors to keep prices in a range that our population find affordable to access and we are encouraging the production in quantities that ensures food is always available. We are responsible for working together to achieve food sovereignty where we grow what we eat and eat what we grow.
As we observe World Food Day 2023, we must acknowledge the world situation in terms of the armed conflicts namely the Russia/Ukraine war and more recently the Israel/Palestinian conflict. While we may feel these conflicts are a world away, the involvement of our neighbours to the north affects our current food systems and supply. This situation must galvanize our will to be more food secure and independent in our production goals.
Further, you have heard of CARICOM’s 25 by 25 agenda for the region. This is the ability to reduce the importation of food by 25 percent by the year 2025. The Ministry of Agriculture is fully supportive of this thrust as in St. Kitts Nevis this 25 percent represents some 50 million dollars. That is 50 million dollars in our economy and 50 million dollars or more distributed among our farmers and their families annually. We all have to play a role to realise this, if not directly there are many support roles and in the context of our nation’s recent independence 40 celebrations– this can make us truly independent.
“Water Is Life, Water Is Food. Leave No One Behind” is the theme under which our week of activities is being celebrated here on Nevis. We have partnered with the Nevis Water Department and the Ministry Health in a series of activities. The week begins of Monday, October 16 and ends on Friday, October 20, 2023.
1. A demonstration of infused water at the Memorial Square
2. Water Conservation tips and tricks with the Nevis Water Department
3. The culmination – Agri-Fest at the Villa Grounds highlighting everything we do in agriculture
In closing, I urge you to work with us as we work for you to ensure not only food security on Nevis but food sovereignty. Nevis in the 1960s and 1970s and to a lesser extent in the 1980s was a major producer in the sub-region and we can do it again.
Happy World Food Day 2023 and may God bless us all.