Agriculture Sector Urged to Adapt to Climate Change

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Minister of Agriculture Hon. Eugene Hamilton

By Loshaun Dixon

Basseterre, St. Kitts-Stakeholders in the Agriculture sector in St. Kitts have been urged to adapt their skills to combat the difficulty faced by climate change as part of the World Food Day Celebrations.

In a ceremony held on Tuesday evening, dozens of farmers, fishermen and agro processors gathered for a prize giving ceremony in celebration of World Food Day Sunday Oct. 16 under the theme “Climate is changing and food and agriculture must too.”

Speaking on the theme, Senior Environment Officer June Hughes highlighted how climate change can impact agriculture.

“Rainfall will continue to decrease and temperature will continue to rise well into this century,” he said. “We can no longer rely on traditional practices such as rain fed agriculture.”

Ms. Hughes added that in order to successfully handle climate change, those providing food have to develop adaptive methods.

“Your approach must be along similar lines as to when you are confronted by a persistent pest,” she said. “In order to improve water availability we have recommended that each farmer practice water harvesting. We also recommend that to reduce water wastage that you practice drip irrigation. We recommend that you plant wind breaks that will cut down on evapotranspiration of the soil.”

She noted that though contending with climate change seems be difficult successful practitioners need to be cognisant to deal with the changes.

“You must take advantage of the resources and personnel available to you, pay attention to emerging technologies, be sure to embrace renewable energy which f successfully implemented will help the country to decrease it carbon footprint while at the same time reducing your energy bill.”

Poultry farmer Marvin Harrigan addressing his fellow farmers stated that he was unaware of some of the impacts of climate change until he did research.

He warned that St. Kitts and Nevis are in a position to be affected by hurricanes and that is something that should concern farmers.

“Most of us have our farms in the mountain areas and the one thing they talk about is flooding,’ he said. “If you don’t have your pens in a certain area if water comes down you can get water in your pens and that is something we as poultry farmers can’t deal with. Water and chickens don’t go together.”

In giving remarks Minister of Agriculture Hon. Eugene Hamilton reminded the farmers and fishermen that wisdom is key their endeavors.

“What farmers in this country need is to follow the path of wisdom. Wisdom should tell us that we have a world that is growing population exploding estimated to be 10 billion by 2050. While that is happening we have a phenomenon of climate changing doing damage causing havoc on the production of food in every nation across this world,” he said.

Mr. Hamilton pointed that it is the challenge of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture to make sure that people produce to the level that will satisfy the needs of St. Kitts and Nevis and the world.

“The millennium goal that is being promoted by Ban Ki Moon calls for us to have zero hunger by 2030,” he added.

He further urged that they should be providing food not for money but for the eradicating of hunger worldwide.

“Wisdom requires you to be producing food not so much for money. If you apply wisdom to supply food that the world needs the money will come, but if your single purpose is about the money then you will fail in your responsibility to make sure that this world is free from hunger.”

The evening also saw a number of farmers and fishermen be awarded for their work throughout the year.

Some of the winners were:

Best Poultry Farm –Marvin Harrigan

Best Managed pig farm Keithly Phillip

Livestock Farmer of 2016 –Wilmot Thomas

Crop farmer of the year Aron Hodge

Fisherman of the year- Melvin Gumbs