Nevis Government Pleased With Sea Cotton Production
November 10, 2007
Almost three months after the thousands of Sea Island Cotton seedlings were planted on 37 acres of government owned land, Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Hon. Robelto Hector expressed satisfaction with the progress of the first crop.
The Minister made the comment when he embarked on a number of field trips recently, as he took a hands on approach to assess projects and to meet with staff and partners involved in the various portfolios under his responsibility.
“Cotton reopens our country’s potential to export thus creating foreign exchange. As a developing country it is critical that we offer a product on the world market that would improve our fiscal position.
“I am happy with the progress with the crop. It shows a vigor that demonstrates that proper management practices are being followed and I wish to congratulate the department of Agriculture in its efforts,” he said.
Meantime, Director of Agriculture Dr. Kelvin Daly who was part of the team that accompanied the Minister explained on Monday November 10, 2007, that the first harvest was expected to be in January 2008 and described the progress as remarkable.“The progress has been remarkable, the pest control is under tight management, the surveillance of the Pink Boll Worm is ongoing and under tight supervision and the flowering of the crop and the formation of the bolls are progressing very well.
“The crops that are under drip irrigation we expect to yield 1,500 pounds per acre. Those under rain fed conditions we expect 1000 pounds per acre. We are harvesting in January and expect to export in February/March,” he said.
However, Dr. Daly explained that the Administration’s decision to return to the production of Sea Island Cotton had encountered its share of difficulties.
“We had difficulty sourcing seeds, when we got that solved we had difficulty with low germination and third, we were hoping to get a larger irrigation system going but it did not happen. So those three factors combined reduced the acreage from 60 to 45,” he said.
Government lands account for 37 acres of cultivated cotton – At Indian Castle has 28, New River five, Port Works three and at Prospect 1.5 acres. Another eight acres are cultivated by farmers on private lands. The last cotton crop planted on Nevis was three years ago on only five acres of land.
Notwithstanding, in light of the positive progress, Dr. Daly addressed persons who decried the project when he had announced the Administration’s intensions to return to cotton cultivation.
“I think a number of persons who criticized our venture back into cotton are praying that the crop fails for their own political reasons but this is a national product with a huge economic potential and regardless of one’s political agenda, the programme should be fully supported.
I am reminding the public that the crop is heavily planted in Antigua with over 200 acres; in Jamaica there is over 1,200 acres, in Barbados there are about 1000 acres and Belize about 200 acres. We are not in this by ourselves in the Caribbean. This is a lucrative product that is supported by private and government sectors in these islands,” he said.
Meantime, Dr. Daly used the opportunity to seek the public’s assistance for the upcoming cotton harvest and interested persons should contact the Department of Agriculture. He said they decided to increase the price from EC$1 per pound to $2 in an effort to attract additional assistance necessary for the bumper yield expected.
“We thought the $1 dollar that was offered in the past was too little for that kind of work. We need to attract more people and with the increase in price anticipated for the cotton, it was only fair that we pay and additional increase for persons who do this labour intensive work of harvesting the crop,” he said.
Dr. Daly had previously indicated that the price of Sea Island Cotton on the world market was US$8-10 per pound as opposed to US$5 three years ago. He said further that the Japanese had shown great interest in the purchase of Nevis’ cotton crop and more recently there has been added interest from commercial concerns in Barbados.