October 8, 2007
Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing, Cooperatives and Fisheries, the Hon. Robelto Hector, told members of the Agro ““Processors Cooperatives on Nevis that they should not restrict themselves to meet the needs of the local market but should explore the potential offered by the industry overseas.
The Minister gave the Agro-processors the advice at the Contract Signing and Ground Breaking ceremony at Prospect on Friday October 05, 2007. The event signaled the start of construction of the island’s first Agro-Processing Plant. He further told them that they had the potential to assist in the island’s social and economic development because of the rapid growth of agro-processing.
“You all have that potential to assist in our national economic development and it is your task to meet the local needs and seek to move towards export potential. Today’s signing is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to agro processing and as I am charged with responsibility for that sector. I promise you my commitment you for the time that I am here and beyond.
“As a government we [NIA] will assist you, as we are doing today with the infrastructure that is so important. We would always give assistance to you to strengthen the social capital as it relates to training. I want you, to make sure that you do the necessary market research, as it is only through proper research that you would discover the reliable market. There are international standards and you are to maintain your standards particularly when you are thinking about an export market,” the Minister said. Minister Hector recognised some of the persons who had championed the agro-processing initiatives in the early years and told the agro-processors that he was impressed with the improved labeling of their products as well as that of the Department of Agriculture which identified its products.
He also commended the Director of Department of Agriculture and his staff on this move which he feels should be extended to the Abattoir which had recently extended its products-line on the local market.
Despite the saturated grounds due to inclimate weather conditions, Mr. Hector broke ground with a backhoe on the site where the plant would be constructed. He called for the support of all involved the project and urged them to think progress and communication, as agro-processing moved to a new level of development on the island.
The new agro-processing facility is expected to compliment the economic transformation thrust initiated by the Nevis Reformation Party led-Administration and also to forge links with the tourism sector.
Director of Cooperatives Mr. Samuel Powell, in his overview of the Plant, outlined key benefits that the new facility would provide. He listed employment opportunities for persons in related services and as well as available continuous training for those persons involved in agro-processing. He pointed out that added value to raw products, the expanded availability of specific commodities and improved of labels and presentations were among the expected outputs of the new facility.
He further pointed out that the Agro-processing facility would address food safety issues that would be better addressed through the use of a central facility. Mr. Powell noted that since 2005 the Agro-Processors had purchased some equipment for the plant but had to stored at members’ homes. In 2006 an appeal was made to government to assist with the construction of a facility.
Mr. Deora Raoul Pemberton was identified as project manager and he would be assisted by Mr. Glanville Bowrin who was instrumental in the design of a floor plan for the project.
The plant constitutes the construction dimensions of 68’4″ long and 45’wide. It will include a receiving room, a pre-processing area, production room, office/waiting area, laboratory, storage, chill/freezer area, kitchenette and bathroom facilities.
According to the scope of works given by Director of Public Works, Mr. Denzil Stanley, construction is estimated to be approximately six months and supervision would be provided by the Public Works Department. The contracts were signed by Managing Director of LEFCO Equipment Rental Company Ltd, Mr. Robelto Liburd and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Cooperatives, Mr. Pearlivan Wilkin.
LEFCO officials affirmed the company’s intention to complete the project on schedule. The company procured the services of Mr. Wang, an expert chief engineer who worked on the Basic Education Projects among them the new St. Johns Primary School, Special Education Unit building and the extension of the Charlestown Secondary School.
Minister of Social Development, the Hon. Hensley Daniel, Education Advisor to Premier, Mrs. Christine Springette, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) representative to St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr. Augustine Merchant, officials from the Taiwanese Technical Mission at Cades Bay as well as members of the Nevis Agro Processors Cooperative and officials from the Department of Agriculture were among those present at the ceremony.