The Nevis Agricultural Sector Is Key To Island Economy

CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 25, 2006)
Minister of Agriculture in Nevis the Hon. Robelto Hector, welcomed the formation of Nevis’ only agro processing cooperative on Wednesday October 25, 2006, and urged the group to assist the Ministry to promote the view that agriculture and agro processing was not about helping poor farmers but was a sector of the island’s economy that contributed to food security. The Minister was at the time delivering remarks at a ceremony to mark the formal launch of the Nevis Agro Processors Cooperative Society Limited at the Department of Agriculture’s Conference Room at Prospect.
“We see the agriculture sector – the processing sector – as one that preserves the environment, adds value to food products, a sector that generates employment and a sector that is linked to tourism. I am saying to your cooperative, you provide one of the closest linkages to tourism,” he said.
Mr. Hector also took the opportunity make a number of requests to the group and impressed upon them the importance of youth involvement in agro processing. He said that it should not be perceived that agro processing was not for the young.
He called on the Agro Processors to utilise the upcoming World Cup Cricket tournament as a springboard to launch their products into the regional and international agricultural markets adding that the tournament would be “a glorious opportunity for agro processing”.
The Minister also made a plea for the group to utilise the media to promote their work since media exposure was critical to the success of their products.
He said he was pleased to see that the Nevis Agro Processors Cooperative truly understood their role of adding value to Nevis agriculture products not only by extending the life of the product but that they have grasped the opportunity to make investments.
Meantime, Director of Cooperatives Mr. Samuel Powell who had worked with the group from its inception explained that members of the group began developing their own product lines from their home base and had penetrated the local market and to some degree have ventured into the export market.
He said the members had benefited from both local and regional training provided by The Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) locally and The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in Trinidad and the group had received a grant from the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) which was used to purchase processing equipment. Also, the Caribbean Development Bank was approached through the Basic Needs Trust Fund for assistance to fund the construction of an agro processing facility.
Mr. Powell urged the members of the Cooperative to move on to a higher level of production, be professional in what they did, improve on their labels to make them attractive and to always keep food safety issues foremost as they added value to the primary products that they used.
He told the Processors that they should also consider entering into contractual arrangements with farmers for them to produce specific crops that they (processors) needed to make their products.
Mr. Powell also challenged the group to venture into souvenir baskets and target the tourist who visited Nevis to sell their products to them and to use whatever opportunities that became available to them to sell and market their products.
“Do not price yourself out of the market; be competitive; more of your products should be available in all of the supermarkets and gift shops on Nevis at all times; order imputs as a group, market as a group, do your promotions as a group. You have to work together as a group and build this cooperative society. You are the owners and you have to make it work,” Mr Powell advised the group.
President of the Society Mr Llewellyn Clarke in his report on thanked all who had assisted the group and issued an initiation for others to become members of the society.

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