It is widely accepted that failing water resources, rising temperatures and increasing population can be attributed to the global food security crisis facing us in the immediate future. Historically, it was land supply that constrained growth in food production, but today the water shortage is the most formidable barrier. Average temperature of the Earth has continued to rise since 1970 and the five warmest years of the last one hundred years were recorded in the last ten years. There are 76 million people added to our population each year and an additional three billion people will share the earth’s resources by the middle of this century. Hence, the three principal steps needed to secure our future world food supply are a worldwide effort to raise water productivity, cut carbon emissions, and stabilize population. What lessons we learn and what implications we bear from the above-mentioned concerns and crises will determine the outcomes. For St. Kitts and Nevis, the most important issue is how to secure the food supply for this Federation in the years to come. As the government’s 2009 Budget Report, released by Minister Harris last week, suggested, “The Government is committed to achieving the objective outlined in the Agriculture Development Strategy, which is based on the Government’s aim to ensure food security and to satisfy export markets towards sustainable development in St. Kitts and Nevis.” With abundant annual precipitation and large amounts of arable land, this country has ample opportunity to develop its comparative advantage in agriculture. We are quite certain that more effective utilization of underground water and arable land is the key for the future of agriculture in this twin island country. Facing successive losses of competitiveness in the world sugar market, the government decided to cease production of sugar for export at the end of the 2005 production period. Consequently, there are more than five thousand acres of land available to be transferred to the prospect of a new agriculture master plan of this Federation. No country in the Caribbean region can compete with St. Kitts and Nevis in terms of arable land. The comparative advantage begs to be transferred into material gains. A scrupulous plan of land suitability analysis for alternative activities is of foremost importance and is essential to this success.” With a contribution of merely 3.5% to the nation’s GDP, the agricultural sector has been long-neglected in St. Kitts and Nevis. Agriculture has been regarded as the backbone of the Republic of China (Taiwan)’s economy, given it counted only 2.9 % of its output in 2007. Even as the 18th largest economy and the leading producer of information technology industries in the world market, Taiwan has never abandoned agriculture. The cover story of the Taiwanese weekly “Newsweek” issued early this year depicted how a group of 17 young farmers operate a model commercial farm in the countryside of Taiwan. Those highly educated engineers in the fields of agriculture, biology, and computer science, who left their affluent and well-paid positions in high-tech companies, make this story a success. They rented 1,250 acres of land from one hundred farmers in a small town in central Taiwan and hired those owners as their workers. With a detailed schedule of production and the modern management of storage and packaging, the commercial farm increased production more than ten times. Both the land owners, with the combined income of rent and wages, and the management group turn out to be winners. Our youngsters were taught in schools to pursue their advanced degrees as engineers or medical doctors rather than to be farmers. They even prefer to work in Marriott Resort or Four Seasons Resort as waiters or gardeners then to work their own land. With a view to attract our youngsters to agriculture, both the government and educators have to take necessary measures. Education should cultivate all walks of life, both medical doctors and farmers. Neglected for years, agricultural infrastructures and establishments should be listed as priority policies for the government. Other encouragements should also be provided to those young potential farmers, such as soft loans and more easily accessible agricultural machine rentals, etc. We are convinced that there is a bright future for agriculture, since God has thus equipped us with water and land to live off their abundance.
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