Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 13, 2018 (SKNIS): The Agricultural Sector in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has shown resilience and recorded an increase of 11.4 percent, despite two category five (5) hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that wreaked havoc on the Caribbean in 2017.

While giving his 2019 Budget Address, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said that had it not been for the hurricanes, the growth in the sector would have been higher. He said this was as a result of the increased output within the Crops and Fishing Sub-sectors, which recorded growth rates of 25.1 and 31.1 percent respectively.

“It is against this backdrop that my government approached the Republic of China (Taiwan) to develop a mechanism to mitigate the effects of climate change on agriculture production,” said the prime minister.

He also said that an assessment of the sector revealed that the core problem is the lack of capacity to respond and adapt to the early warning information of climate variability. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture is putting in place systems that will help to increase the resilience of the agricultural system.

These recommended systems are the establishing of a data collection mechanism for early warnings; developing of crop disaster mitigation and prevention techniques; and increasing the availability of agricultural information.

“In 2019, we will begin work to address these three (3) programmatic areas to link agricultural activity with weather data, and provide crop livestock farmers with early warnings of weather variations. It is envisaged that improved information would also help to reduce damage and losses in the agriculture sector overtime,” he said.

The prime minister highlight that in 2017, the Ministries of Agriculture and Education undertook a consultative process to develop an Agricultural Science syllabus geared towards inculcating an interest among young persons at the primary school level.

“The aim of this course of learning is to create a new cadre of farmers that will take the sector forward, increase agricultural contribution to GDP and enhance our food security. We are committed to sustaining growth and prosperity in our Federation,” Prime Minister Harris said.