Prime Minister highlights agriculture sector’s importance in strengthening economy

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris examines local produce.
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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Farmers and fisherfolks in St. Kitts and Nevis were today, Thursday, February 4, reminded of their important role in the overall growth of the Federation’s economy, and of the Team Unity administration’s unwavering support for the development of the agricultural and fisheries sectors.

“We are well placed as a country to begin the recovery from the worst COVID-19 economic impact,” said Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris. “Indeed, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that St. Kitts and Nevis can realise an 8 percent economic growth in 2021. This growth will not come easy, it will not come by us waiting for it to happen and hoping that it will happen. We will have to work hard in 2021 for it.

“This strong turnout of farmers to this particular session is an indication of your high interest in the sector and your commitment to hard work,” he said. “It is you, the people in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources that will make the growth in agriculture happen.”

The Prime Minister was at the time delivering remarks at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources Annual Review and Agenda 2021 Meeting.

Over the past year, the Government has made significant financial investments in the agricultural sector that was instrumental in assisting the farming and fishing community to rebound following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My Government believes in your sector and the contribution that it will make,” said Dr. Harris. “That is why we have invested $10 million in our stimulus package to boost production in the agriculture sector and ensure greater food security for the Federation.

“Our plans are to inject an additional $5 million in stimulus over the next two years, starting with $3 million which will be available in 2021 to boost production and ensure greater food security,” explained Dr. Harris. “Combined with our $10 million committed as part of the stimulus…we have committed five more million dollars over the next two years to bring the special stimulus support to $15 million.

“This assistance should not be looked at as a hand out but rather as a sign of the trust and belief that we have in the agricultural sector to protect jobs, create new jobs, and help rebuild our economy,” said Dr. Harris. “Indeed, hundreds of farmers and fishers received well needed assistance, putting their livelihoods back-on-track.”

As part of its stimulus package introduced in March 2020, the Government has injected $10 million into the agricultural sector. Farmer’s water payments have been waived for six months as a measure to boost agricultural production.

During his 2021 Budget presentation in December of last year, Prime Minister Dr. Harris announced the extension of nine of the 17 measures outlined in its comprehensive $120-million stimulus package. Among them was the waiver of payments for the consumption of water by farmers until June 2021.

Additionally, the Government provided assisted farmers in purchasing fencing wires, free harrowing services, and free inputs such as seeds and seedlings. More than 200 fishermen benefited from the provision of fish trap wire, fishing line, hooks, rope, buoys and safety equipment.

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