Open days and openness

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We offer our heartfelt congratulations to the Nevis Island Administration, the Ministry and Department of Agriculture and all participants on the hosting of its latest Agricultural Open Day.  Truth be told, it is more of an Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition than an Open Day, but no one is complaining.   We also congratulate, belatedly, William&EmmontineThompson for winning, yet again, at the Agriculture Fair in St Croix.

Having congratulated all, we must pose the question: Is all well with Agriculture in Nevis?

Despite the seemingly increasing number of goats and sheep that roam both town and country, our mutton is still being imported from places such as St. Eustatius. Local owners still use their small stock as walking bank accounts rather than as a food source to be harvested like any other resource.   Similarly, cattle are left to roam, even as beef and beef products are being banned from Brazil.

Pork is perhaps the biggest local meat that sells. But yet, we have not mastered the art of producing a well marbled cut of pork that can end up in our gourmet sections of restaurants.

While farmers/producers enjoy concessions on inputs (animal feed, seeds, water, fertiliser, fencing, veterinary care, chemicals and so on), savings are not passed on to consumers, as local products are still way more expensive than imported stuff.  Perhaps the authorities now need to look into price control measures in exchange for these concessions.

There is also the question of donkeys and monkeys.  Let us offer a thought on the monkeys. The Director of Agriculture (Ag) described a programme to control monkeys that involves spreading a banquet in the hills to entice the monkeys away from the urban areas where they now reside and do damage.  We do not have the expertise to assess such a programme, but feel that a better approach would have been for the monkeys to be officially declared a pest; and then to implement pest control measures.  It is not too late to do so.  Our research indicates that monkeys are clannish and territorial, and will often wilfully destroy food sources of other clansi.e. the fruit trees in your yard!

The Department must also do more to support backyard gardeners.   They need fencing protection from marauders and pilferers, just as much as they need “zwot” portions of seedlings to plant in the backyard.

Feeding ourselves, eating local, supporting home grown produce is becoming too expensive.  All is not yet well in agriculture, but we are getting there.