More Land For St. Kitts – Nevis Farmers

Locals St. Kitts - Nevis Produce For Sale

Locals St. Kitts – Nevis Produce For Sale
Photo By Erasmus Williams

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
March 02, 2009 (CUOPM)

With more former sugar lands given to farmers and the cultivation of larger acreages, the Department of Agriculture is reporting a significant increase in major food crops despite adverse weather conditions in the later part of 2008, which saw production dropped in others.

The Department of Agriculture is reporting an increase in carrots, onions, white potatoes, pineapples, yam and sweet potatoes and decreases in cabbage, sweet pepper, tomatoes, peanut and watermelon.

Director of Agriculture, Mr. Ashton Stanley said carrot production increased 115 percent, from 80,000 kilos in 2007 to 172,000 kilos in 2008; onion increased 131 percent, from 22,000 kilos in 2007 to 51,000 kilos in 2008; production of white potato went up 190 percent, from 126,000 kilos to 239,000 kilos in 2008; pineapple production increased 16 percent from 60,000 kilos in 2007 to 69,000 kilos in 2008 and yam, from 15,000 kilos in 2007 to 18,000 kilos in 2008, up 20 percent. There was also a marginal increase in sweet potato production, up 2 percent from 192,000 kilos in 2007 to 197,000 kilos in 2008.

“This increase in production could be attributed to improved agronomic practices thus resulting in increased yield and farmers cultivating larger acreages as a result of some of the former sugar lands been made available for crop production,” said Stanley.

He disclosed that the passage of Hurricane Omar in the third quarter and flash flooding in the last quarter contributed to the decrease in production of cabbage, down 24 percent, from 81,000 kilos in 2007 to 61,000 kilos in 2008; sweet pepper, down 15 percent, from 32,000 kilos in 2007 to 27,000 kilos in 2008; tomato production dropped from 141,000 kilos in 2007 to 117,000 kilos in 2008, a decline of 17 percent; peanut production dropped 50 percent, from 86,000 kilos in 2007 to 43,000 kilos in 2008 and watermelon registered a 36 percent decline, from 100,000 kilos in 2007 to 64,000 kilos in 2008.

Mr. Stanley said that the two outreach centres located at Tabernacle (TOC) and Fahie’s (FOC) continued to provide extension service to farmers in the rural communities and to demonstrate continuous vegetable production under irrigated and rain-fed conditions, respectively.

“During the year in review, the TOC experienced a number of challenges; nonetheless, several plots of semi-commercial vegetables were established.  The plots established included sorrel, cucumbers, sweet peppers, watermelon, honey dew melon, cantaloupe, cabbage and onions,” said the Director of Agriculture.

He also reported that two sweet pepper plots, one cucumber and one tomato plot were affected by heavy rain and high wind, which led to early termination of the plants.

“When compared to 2007, production fell primarily because the number of plots established were less in 2008 and late planting which targeted the National Agricultural Exhibition since during this period crop production is generally low,” said Stanley.

He said that the seedling shed at the Tabernacle Outreach Center was expanded due to the high demand for seedling in that area.

In 2008, the Fahie’s Outreach Center evaluated semi-commercial plots of sweet pepper, tomato, cabbage, watermelon, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, squash and sorrel and favourable yields were obtained.

“The Centre carried on result demonstration to demonstrate the use of plastic mulch during the dry season and farmers were convinced of the effects and possibilities of using the plastic mulch to enhance their production,” said the Director of Agriculture.

Ten farmers on St. Kitts attended the demonstration exercise and have started to use the plastic mulch on their own plots.


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