September 12, 2007
Sea Island Cotton planting commenced in earnest on government estates and private owned lands in Nevis. The exercise was in keeping with an earlier announcement by Agriculture officials on the island, of the Department of Agriculture’s plans to reintroduce cotton production on the island.
During an interview with the Department of Information on location at the Port Works Agricultural Station on Tuesday September 11, 2007, Communications Officer at the Department of Agriculture Mr. Eric Evelyn said that the Sea Island Cotton fetched premium prices on the world market and Japanese manufacturers had indicated their interest to purchase the cotton from Nevis.
A total of 40 acres are cultivated on government estates, 20 acres short of the initial plan which was caused by late planting and irrigation difficulty. However, Director of Agriculture Dr. Kelvin Daly said, the 40 acres cultivated represented an 800 percent increase over the last Sea Island Cotton Crop in 2003, when only five acres had been cultivated on government estates.
He said for the 2007-08 cotton crop, a total of eight farmers had taken up the challenge to replant cotton on 10 acres of private lands.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Evelyn noted that a number of new techniques were being utilised to produce maximum yields.
“We [Department of Agriculture} are using the technology that is available and it is the first time that we are planting cotton by seedlings. In the past, cotton had been planted by direct seeding. The reason for planting some of the cotton by seedlings is because the plant gets a better start and so at Port Works and New River [estates], we are doing seedlings and the direct seeding was done at Indian Castle.
“In addition, we are also planting the cotton under drip irrigation for the very fist time. Normally, cotton is planted and it is a rain fed crop but because of the fact that it is fetching a premium price, we have decided to do some of the cotton under drip irrigation so that we can get the maximum output and the maximum yields from the cotton crop,” he said.
Mr. Evelyn further added that the plants would receive the relevant fertilizers and pest control methods since the past experience had shown that cotton was a crop that was prone to pest.