Prime Minister Timothy Harris used Thursday (April 25) morning’s ceremony to mark the opening of the Department of Agriculture’s Open Day 2019 to reaffirm his Government’s fullest commitment to the farming community in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Addressing the ceremony at the department’s conference room at LaGuerite, Harris told the nation’s farmers and fisher folk that the Team Unity administration stands with them and noted that “we are prepared to give all that we reasonably can for the forward thrust and development of the agricultural sector.”
“That is why, for example, in the aftermath of the hurricanes of 2017 when many farms were disrupted and disorganized, we instituted a response mechanism [where we] made hundreds of thousands of dollars available to the farmers and made that available to them for inputs so that they could restart early, take up the pieces again and do what they have done successfully – feed the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis,” Harris said, while commending the efforts of Eugene Hamilton in making the case for this financial assistance to farmers at the Cabinet level.
Harris added that the strong turnout of senior level government officials, including His Excellency the Governor General, Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton, as well as the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Tourism, at the opening of Agriculture Open Day event is indicative of the importance the Team Unity administration places on the development of the agricultural sector.
Harris also made mention of the highly touted Agriculture Support Fund, where $1.5 million was made available in loan funds to farmers and fishers at a five percent interest rate and $1 million in grant funds through the Development Bank.
“Over two hundred farmers benefited from grant financing. It was last December…that we gathered here and there was the distribution of cheques to farmers on the island of St. Kitts and on the island of Nevis. In other words, the government is prepared to put its money where its mouth is. We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk and we back the walk with dollars and cents, and that’s the kind of support you will continue to get under a Team Unity administration,” Harris said.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Harris issued a call for more individuals, particularly young persons, to seize the opportunities available and get involved in farming and fishing activities that help the agricultural sector become a more significant contributor to the country’s GDP statistics.