February 08, 2008
The first harvest of Sea Island Cotton on Nevis in three years commenced recently as scheduled and Director of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) Dr. Kelvin Daly said the crop would be ready for processing by mid March with a projected first shipment by April or May.
During an interview with the Department of Information on February 08, 2008, Dr. Daly said though the cotton crop was not fully matured, the Department had harvested close to 1,000 pounds with labour from within the Department and small scale assistance from outside.
“The harvest areas we are picking from are Port Works and New River. The crop at Indian Castle is not yet ready but it should be ready before the end of this month in February. We expect the full harvest to be ready for processing by the middle of March. Once processed the first shipment should be ready to be shipped by April early May.
“We expect a bumper crop from the 40 acres under government control. Normally you expect 40,000 pounds per acre of raw cotton but we expect a little higher yield because of irrigation and the pesticide control programmes we put in place. So we anticipate maybe 50,000 pounds for the 40 acres. Once processed that should give us a yield approaching 10 tons of cotton. That’s the yield we expect,” he explained.
The Director of Agriculture said he was satisfied with the quality of the harvest so far and described it as “very clean” and with “no insect damage of note” and therefore expected “a fantastic yield”. He said the ginning equipment was expected to arrive on Nevis in six weeks.
Notwithstanding, Dr. Daly reiterated the NIA’s commitment to keep cotton as a valued export crop and contended that once saw the success that had been achieved with the first crop they would take part in the programme for the next planting season which will begin in September/October 2008.
“We anticipate that more persons will come on board but right now we have five to six farmers with about an acre each and they are also doing very well. The monkeys are a problem for those private farmers and they have to be very vigilant but inspection of the cotton and inspection of the yield they should also do very well because they have been guided by us from day one,” he said.
Meantime, he used the opportunity to clear what he described as persistent rumours that monkeys had been destroying the cotton crop on government owned estates. Dr. Daly noted that the Department of Agriculture had taken steps to prevent losses.
“The rumours that are out there about monkeys destroying the crop in the government estates are totally untrue. We took the extraordinary measure of erecting electrified fences at Newcastle; we took the extraordinary cost of having workers stay overtime to guard the crops; we also have erected extra fencing, barbwire and razor wire to prevent the losses but the rumours are persisting.
“Once persons appreciate the volume of cotton they will see that they were wrong on all counts. They were wrong in the idea that we could not do it, they were wrong in the idea that monkeys were destroying the crop. The Department is committed and the government is committed to making sure this crop succeeds and without much input we are managing to bring in a lot of cotton and a lot of money into the Nevis Treasury for the Nevis Island government and a little bit of fame for the Nevis Island people to feel proud of,” he said.
Sea Island Cotton cultivation was reintroduced in September 2007 following a three year lapse. The Sea Island Cotton fetched premium prices on the world market and Japanese manufacturers had indicated their interest to purchase the cotton from Nevis.
Government estates under cotton cultivation are Indian Castle – 28, New River – five, Port Works – three and Prospect – 1.5 acres. Another eight acres are cultivated by farmers on private lands.