Sustainable agriculture promotes food security, healthy lifestyle

    Department of Agriculture officials, Ian Chapman, left, Crops Programme Leader with Director Melvin James.
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    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — The Coronavirus pandemic has threatened many aspects of human life, and food security is no exception, according to Ian Chapman, Crops Programme Leader in the Department of Agriculture.

    “Through sustainable agriculture, farmers can provide a constant supply of healthy nutritious food, be it meat or fruits and vegetables for public consumption,” said Ian Chapman, Crops Programme Leader in the Department of Agriculture. “A sustainable agricultural support approach to our ministry will ensure and make our food system more productive.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our farmers to find new ways of creating or improving our nutrition and our market opportunities,” he said. “We need to transform and re-balance the way food is produced here within the Federation.”

    Chapman said the production of local crops, and harvesting local meats help to eliminate the unhealthy chemicals that are placed on imported food to preserve them until they reach into the consumers’ hand. The availability of locally grown food ensures that there is a healthier supply of food to satisfy the citizens’ needs for food and nutrition. Additionally, it reduces the fear that citizens may face about the unavailability of food due to the import-export challenges associated with COVID-19.

    “We are promoting healthy diets to strengthen our immune system,” said Chapman. “Unhealthy eating has far-reaching consequences that surpass the individual and places a strain on the public health system.”

    The panelists agreed that eating healthy helps to minimize the presence of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension associated with the consumption of unhealthy foods.

    Chapman said one key initiative by the Department of Agriculture to help promote healthy eating is the “Farmers Agriculture Assistance Programme that will assist farmers in enhancing their productivity.”

    Further support by the Agriculture Department to promote food security and healthy eating as noted by Director Melvin James, focused on preserving the lives of the livestock through the Tick Prevention Programme.

    “We were able to make good strides in our Tick Control Programme, in our Pest Surveillance and Disease identification,” said Chapman.

    “Over the years, the Tick Prevention Programme, which started in 2018, has contributed significantly to the preservation of livestock,” said James. “Drawing a parallel to demonstrate the effectiveness of the programme, the presence of ticks on the animals didn’t just affect the skin of the animals but also their survival. We had 1,230 animals that we lost; 308 goats, 290 sheep, and worse, affected cattle, over 600 cattle.”

    Taking the initiative, the department was able to reduce the presence of ticks on the animals and subsequently the mortality rate, thereby ensuring the security of meat for consumption by locals.

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