Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 02, 2020 (SKNIS): Over 200 farmers in St. Kitts have responded generously to the Ministry of Agriculture’s stimulus package of $10 million and cultivation is expected to begin shortly, said Director in the Department of Agriculture, Melvin James, during the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing for May 02.
“Last week a team of twelve (12) extension staff took to the crop distributors to promote the stimulus package and to solicit support. A total of some 250 farmers responded and committed some 273.5 acres for the six (6) selected crops,” said Mr. James.
The director indicated that the first phase of cultivation will start with seventy-five (75) acres.
“It is obvious as we look through the data that they chose acreages which are manageable to them and is averaged around half an acre. We will, therefore, start by cultivating not the entire 270 add acres which seem quite a lot, but in our circumstances, we would look at seventy-five (75) acres consisting of ten (10) acres of squash, fifteen (15) acres of melons, just under six (6) acres of cabbages and sweet peppers and about thirty (30) acres of sweet potatoes,” said Director James. “So our land preparation and seed establishment will begin in earnest in the coming week. Basic planning is over and now intense planting will take over,” he added.
Mr. James gave a breakdown of the number of crops that will be produced when they are ready to harvest.
“The squash will give us a yield in these conditions of around 160 thousand pounds or around seventy-two (72) metric tons which in our case is about one year’s output. Similarly, the cabbages in the five (5) acres will yield about 115 thousand pounds or 52.5 metric tons, while fifteen (15) acres of melons will give us about a half year output in fruits or about 240 thousand pounds or 109 metric tons,” said Mr. James. “We will have similar results for sweet peppers, sweet potatoes and pumpkins.”
At a press conference on March 24, 2020, Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris announced that the government injected 10 million dollars into the agricultural sector and waived the water payments of farmers for six months as a measure to boost the agricultural production.