Basseterre, St. Kitts- Nevis
January 30, 2008
The Department of Agriculture is forging forward in its role of facilitating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and the local farmers of St. Kitts.
In giving background to the MOU, Agriculture Marketing Officer Mr. Alistair Edwards said that negotiations commenced under Director of Agriculture Dr. Jerome Thomas, even before the Marriott was completed. He explained that select produce had been provided since 2003 but there had been some challenges. Mr. Edwards sad that when the St. Kitts Marriott came under new management farmers were told that they needed produce insurance as was required by commodity suppliers to Marriott Resorts internationally. Once this was done, they were able to sign the recent MOU, which Edwards described as a marriage where both parties are committed – one in terms of buying and the other in terms of supplying produce. The MOU, which was signed Novermber 3, 2007, is the forerunner to an official contract, the draft of which is already circulating to the relevant parties for adjustments.
The Marketing Officer said that the present arrangement agrees to the consistent supply of five commodities specifically tomatoes, watermelon, sweet-potatoes, pumpkin and green-peppers.
Other goods can be supplied as well but prices have to be negotiated. He explained that the supply of produce under the MOU has been going on for a month and farmers have supplied tomatoes, mint, carambola and seed-in cucumbers even though the request had been seedless cucumbers.
Mr. Edwards said that the Department of Agriculture takes its role seriously from the point of grading the produce to the administrative part of the process. He said it all begins on the farm where the farmer harvests the produce and does the first grading. It is then brought to the Department of Agriculture where a second grading, sorting and packaging is done before transport to Marriott. The Department also assists with the administrative part of the procedure which includes record keeping.