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Minister of Environment and Cooperatives, the Hon Eric Evelyn, addressing participants at Agro Strip 2020 held on Friday November 27 on Pond Road in Basseterre (Photo: SKN Vibes)

St Kitts-Nevis minister welcomes renewed interest in agriculture

Minister of Environment and Cooperatives, the Hon Eric Evelyn, addressing participants at Agro Strip 2020 held on Friday November 27 on Pond Road in Basseterre (Photo: SKN Vibes)

While recenlty making an appeal for residents of St Kitts and Nevis to support cooperatives by purchasing local produce, Federal Minister of Environment and Cooperatives Eric Evelyn shared that he had observed a surge in interest in agriculture.

“I am exceptionally pleased with what is taking place here on the Agro Strip today,” the minister said while addressing patrons at the event held in November under the theme ‘Locally Grown, Locally Owned.

Clockwise from top: Minister of Environment and Cooperatives Eric Evelyn, Permanent Secretary Sharon Rattan and Registrar of Cooperatives Clyde Thompson tour Agro Strip; the minister shares a frame — Locally Owened, Locally Grown — with a staff member from the Department of Cooperatives; lifting a pumpkin; blood pressure checked at Ministry of Health stand. (Photo: SKN Vibes)

“Of course, this is something that used to happen previously, but we have decided to make it much bigger this year. We know that there has been a surge and there is an increase in interest in agriculture on St Kitts and we have a number of cooperatives here on St Kitts and we wanted to in some way promote what they are doing,” he continued.

The true meaning of cooperatives

The minister also expressed his satisfaction with seeing the various cooperatives represented at Agro Strip 2020 — farmers, fishermen, agro-process, credit unions, and craft — while underscoring the need to work together, as the name ‘cooperatives’ suggests.

Minister of Environment and Cooperatives Eric Evelyn and Permanent Secretary Sharon Rattan pose with staff of the Department of Cooperatives (top left); the minister with officials of St Kitts Taxi Cooperative (right). Bottom picture shows a general view of Agro Strip 2020. (Photo: ZIZ News)

To emphasise his point, Evelyn explained the correlation between consuming locally grown, organic produce and the health of St Kitts and Nevis citizens.

“I am happy as well that the Ministry of Health is here to show the link between local produce and health, because the more local produce you consume, the healthier you will be and the wealth of the nation is based on the health of the nation… So I am happy for the collaboration today,” he commented.

Also attending the agricultural expo were Premier of Nevis Mark Brantley, Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan Tom Lee, and Ambassador Vance Amory.

St Kitts and Nevis Minister of Environment and Cooperatives Eric Evelyn (centre) with Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan Tom Lee (right) and a member of a local cooperative. (Photo: SKN Vibes)

Bringing creativity to agriculture

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Cooperatives Sharon Rattan, who was also among patrons, expressed how excited she was to see the quality of locally grown food and to enjoy the on-site cooking.

Given the strain on Caribbean economies due to the COVID-19 crisis, Rattan said it is more relevant at this time to “start thinking more deeply and creatively about what we grow [and] how we eat, because what if we can’t get it from overseas?”

She also welcomed seeing a multitude of patrons from various age groups shopping during the event.

A brainchild of various members of the cooperatives, Agro Strip became an annual event two years ago. At the time the cooperatives craved the opportunity to showcase their offerings with the local market and identified the Pond Road are, for its proximity to an active thoroughfare, as the venue.

“We knocked heads, came up with the idea and it started with a collaborative effort when we were part of the Ministry of Agriculture…” Registrar of Cooperatives Clyde Thompson said.