Nevis’ Agricultural Minister – Robelto Hector
November 15, 2010
Minister of Agriculture on Nevis Hon. Robelto Hector underscored the importance of The Four Seasons Resort, Nevis to the agricultural sector on the island, at a recent sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly at Hamilton House in Charlestown. He pointed to the immeasurable contributions the hotel had made to the sector as the major client.
Mr. Hector was at the time lending his support to a Resolution tabled in the Assembly by Premier of Nevis and Minister of Tourism in the Nevis Island Administration Hon. Joseph Parry (NIA) on the acclaimed establishment
In the resolution which came about four weeks ahead of the hotel’s planned December 15th reopening after a two year closure, Mr. Parry recorded the Assembly’s greatest appreciation for the efforts of the Resort and all who made positive contributions to its reopening. He pledged the Administration’s continued support to the Resort, in the hope that it would continue to serve the Nevis economy well for years to come.
The Agriculture Minister presented statistics on the throughput between the Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Division and the Four Seasons from 2006 to 2010, to hammer home his point, that the Hotel had provided a better way of life for the island’ people but more so the farmers, fishers and beekeepers of Nevis who had struggled during the closure.
“This is only the records of the Marketing Division in 2006 – $121,000; in 2007 just about $150,000 from vegetable and fruits sold to the Four Seasons; in 2008 and I must remind this House that that was the time of Hurricane Omar, we had moved in excess of $370, 000 throughput out of this one client the Four Seasons Resort”¦ Struggle, strugggled and we recognise in 2010 we are yet to put a mark to raise one dollar from this institution.
“This is just the records from the Marketing Division. I want to say to you, by private arrangement there are also farmers that are able to benefit from sending agricultural produce to the Four Seasons Resort,” he said.
With regard to meat, poultry and fish Mr. Hector explained that returns had reached an all-time high for those farmers from 2006 and also provided statistics to support his claim.
“Meat products” 2006 we raised some $67,000; 2007 – $73,000 and by 2008 about $81,000 and to show the decline, I must tell you the Abattoir would have been only able to raise a meagre $4,681 as a value in 2009. With the work that is going on there, in 2010 we are seeing $4,000 to date.
“Madame President I must say to you that the poultry industry also benefitted from the opening of the Four Seasons Resort. It is my estimation that some $250,000 is earned by our poultry producers from the same single source. Our Fishermen too [benefitted] and from the information I received, it is somewhere about $500,000 per year in fish products going to the Four Seasons market. So Madame President when I said the Farmers had trying times, the Farmers had hard times for the past two years [and] I want this country to understand,” he said.
However, Mr. Hector said in the face of the trying times, the NIA stood with the farmers and tried ways to cushion the financial blow on the sector. At that time the by local campaign was in full gear and there were repeated calls for supermarkets and the public to support the island’s farmers.
During that time the Agriculture Minister explained that there were efforts which have reaped success, to tighten and revive the cooperative on the island. He also spoke of the work done to boost the agro processing sector to compliment the farmer’s work but that was not without its share of hiccups nonetheless he called for corporation in the interest of all.
“I want to say also at that time we sought to deepen the agro processing industry. I must report to this Honourable House, that we too had challenges. Some members of the Agro Processing Industry who are more politicians than agro processors they sought to derail the process.
“Madame President I would say to you, we have had agitation asking for Memorandum of Understanding in order to continue to be a part of the Agro Processing Industry and the utilisation of that agro processing building that we have put forward. Madame President, I want to call on such persons to desist, there’s no need for a fight,” he said.
The Minister noted that the NIA had invested in the Agro Processing Industry because it had recognised the vast potential the sector offered. He urged the agro processors to not dabble in politics but instead think of the growth of the industry which could bring employment, an export market and by extension foreign exchange to Nevis.
Mr. Hector referred to the closure of Four Seasons Resort as dark times which he said the Department and Minister of Agriculture did not let hinder the annual Agriculture Open Day or the Fruit Festival. Both events provided an avenue where farmers were able to showcase their produce on the local market.