CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS (March 29, 2007)
Premier of Nevis the Hon. Joseph Parry made a passionate plea to Nevisians, to return to the soil and to consume locally produced foods if they are to guard against diseases and a shortened lifespan. The call came when he made remarks at the opening ceremony of the 13th Agriculture Open day at the Villa in Charlestown on Thursday March 29, 2007.
The function signalled the start of the two-day annual flagship event of the Department and Ministry of Agriculture on Nevis, with the theme “Implementing Science and Technology to increase and sustain Agricultural Productivity”. The exhibition is being held under the patronage of Mr. Charles Cozier a fisherman from Fountain Village.
Mr. Parry noted that at present, Nevis was faced with a situation where there was no export market and a notable shift from the consumption of local produce to imported products, a trend which was generally thought of as a mark of affluence. He urged Nevisians to reverse the trend and to pattern the eating habits of the people of Dominica who consumed more locally produced foods.“The people of Dominica, who use their local food more extensively than we do, have an average lifespan of two to three years more than the Nevisian and the Kittitian. It is clear that this phenomenon can be aligned to our relative consumption patterns. I am making this point to say to the people of Nevis, that we need to return to the soil and the people need to return to consuming what we grow and what we produce locally”¦We insist on eating out of these tins and plastics and perhaps we should follow the people of Dominica and eat out of the soil where we produce our good food on Nevis.
“I say we need to make a shift now and we need to increase local production. As we encourage farmers and other persons to produce, we encourage them to produce for the local market but also we should take advantage of the other industries that we have on the island of Nevis,” he said.
He said the time had come to return to the Nevis Model which was born out of an experience with the Four Seasons Resorts, Nevis 15-20 years ago. When the Resort came to Nevis the Nevis Island Administration which he headed then had organised for the Four Seasons to purchase from the farmers. As a result, an extension service was organised to work with the farmers to ensure the production of good food and a regular supply 12 months a year.
“I am advising the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture but especially to the farmers of Nevis to return fully to that model because in this way we would ensure a number of things for our farmers and our people.
“We would ensure healthy living but we would also ensure a ready and sustainable income for the people who are in farming and that business of local consumption. But more than that, we would reduce the food import bill and therefore make our economy stronger even as we make our people healthier,” he said.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Parry reminded persons of the link between the cooperative movement, fisheries and agriculture which he indicated was essential if the island was to again become a powerhouse in local production, feed the tourist and the people of Nevis and to make themselves wealthy.
While he commended all who were involved in the production of the Agriculture Open Day, Mr. Parry said aside from the showcase of what the island produced the event created, it should also serve as a catalyst for greater production, give an indication of where Nevisians are where they hoped to go and what they hoped to achieve in the future where agriculture was concerned.
Among those present at the ceremony was Ambassador of China Taiwan His Excellency Mr. John Liu and Deputy Governor General His Honour Mr. Eustace John.