New Zealand gift generating interest among students at CPS

 

Photo caption: Principal of the Charlestown Primary School Latoya Jeffers


NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 10, 2016) — Principal of the Charlestown Primary School (CPS) Latoya Jeffers says the recent gift of a shade house to the school, from the government and people of New Zealand, continues to generate interest among students who are showing a willingness to care for the vegetables planted there for use at the school’s cafeteria.

 

Ms. Jeffers made the comment when she spoke to the Department of Information on October 10, 2016. In late September, the shade house was handed over to Premier of Nevis and Minister of Education Hon. Vance Amory, by New Zealand’s High Commissioner to  St. Kitts and Nevis Her Excellency Jan Henderson.

 

I am very proud of the shade house and the plants we already have in it. Currently, we have tomatoes, sweet peppers and thyme. The students are quite excited about the shade house and willingly care for the plants.

 

“This shade house will be of great assistance to the cafeteria because it will help with the cost of vegetables. The children will also benefit, in that, they will be learning about agriculture,” she said.

 

The gift materialised through the efforts of Augustine Merchant, Coordinator of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) office in St. Kitts and Nevis and the St. Kitts Nevis Agricultural Youth Forum.

 


Photo caption: Premier of Nevis and Minister of Education Hon. Vance Amory cuts the ribbon to the new shade house   donated by the Government and people of New Zealand with (left) Augustine Merchant, Coordinator of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in St. Kitts and Nevis and (right) New Zealand’s High Commissioner to St. Kitts and Nevis Her Excellency Jan Henderson


At the handing over, Merchant said IICA sees agriculture in the school as a priority area and that it serves as a powerful tool to improve the quality of nutrition and education of the children.

 

This could be done through the integration of a national agricultural nutrition and education programme which we are hoping to do in the school here. This shade house is expected to provide a safe place for the students to grow some of the food they would eat.

 

“In addition to that it would increase their knowledge of the farming industry, develop a love for agriculture and help prepare the next generation of farmers,” he said.

 

Meantime, the New Zealand High Commissioner said when she was presented with the project for the shade house, she saw it as a community project with which New Zealand has interest in becoming engaged because her island is passionate about agriculture, which is seen as a high status occupation.



Photo caption: The shade house donated to the Charlestown Primary School by the Government and people of New Zealand through the efforts of Augustine Merchant,Coordinator of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) office in St. Kitts and Nevis and the St. Kitts Nevis Agricultural Youth Forum

 

“I don’t see it just in terms of growing vegetables. My interest in supporting this is very much about bringing a new generation of children into caring about what they grow and eat, understanding nutrition and seeing it as something that they can make a career out of,” she said.

 

Premier Amory thanked the High Commissioner and Mr. Merchant for bringing the shade house to Nevis. He said he sees agriculture as a worthwhile occupation and business. He also expressed hope that the activities at the shade house would propel some students to become professionals in the various sectors of agriculture.

END

 

 

 

Agro-Processor Stapleton pushes for use of cassava flour in bread making after FAO workshop

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Photo caption: Maureen Stapleton an Agro-processor from Cotton Ground Village, a participant in the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Bread Making Using Wet Cassava workshop, delivering remarks at the closing ceremony at the Red Cross conference room on May 18, 2016

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (May 24, 2016) — Maureen Stapleton, an Agro-Processor from Cotton Ground Village on Nevis, says if bakeries on the island do not use the opportunity to integrate cassava in their products the agro processors will.

She made the comment on behalf of participants at a closing ceremony at the Red Cross conference room on May 18, 2016, for a two-day Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Bread Making Using Wet Cassava workshop. It was hosted by the Department of Agriculture as part of activities for Agriculture Awareness Month. 

“We, from the group this morning, we will run with it. If nobody else is going to run with it, the participants, I am going to be behind everyone. If the bakeries don’t want to do it the agro processors will. So we would have to garner more agro processors,” she said.

Stapleton, a retired nurse who specialises in processing root crops, stated that eating incorrectly continues to impact the quality of life of young people.

“You want your kids to live a good age. The bible says three score and ten and yet we see young diabetics. We have so many persons not eating correctly but this afternoon, I can vouch and tell you that cassava and all the root crops and breadfruit it’s the best,” she said.

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Photo caption: Bread made with wheat flour and cassava flour during the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Bread Making Using Wet Cassava workshop on May 17-18, 2016

During the workshop, bread was made by replacing 40 and 25 percent of the wheat flour with grated sweet varieties of cassava in a basic recipe used by commercial bakeries.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Eric Evelyn, in his remarks, said the Department for Agriculture has been trying to take the lead with greater production of cassava on government-owned farms. He expects that local farmers would do the same.

He expressed hope that the people of Nevis would realise the importance of cassava and embrace the idea of consuming bread with cassava, given the large market in Nevis.

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Photo caption: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Eric Evelyn delivering remarks at the closing ceremony of the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Bread Making Using Wet Cassava workshop at the closing ceremony at the Red Cross conference room on May 18, 2016

Evelyn noted that cassava presents a number of opportunities for the private and public sector – bakeries, supermarkets, the Department of Agriculture and for farmers who wish to cultivate more cassava once grated cassava and cassava flour is used in bread making.

“I know there are some persons who are allergic to gluten and that is why persons have been flocking to the agro-processing centre to purchase some of the flour that we are making there in terms of getting an alternative to wheat flour.

“So I believe the opportunities are there for our school feeding programmes, for the hospital, for the supermarket and I am really hoping that the bakeries would come on board,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary used the opportunity to thank the FAO for their rapid response to the Ministry’s request for sending the cassava expert in the region to conduct the workshop.

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Photo caption: Vermaran Extavour, Regional Project Coordinator at the FAO, cassava development expert and facilitator of the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Bread Making Using Wet Cassava workshop during demonstrations on May 18, 2016

Meantime, facilitator Vermaran Extavour, Regional Project Coordinator at the FAO said the use of cassava to reduce the food import bill of countries in the region is an important quest for Caribbean governments. Extavour works specifically in the area to support the development of cassava in the region.

She explained that over the past 18 months, she has been working with bakeries throughout the region to find innovative ways to introduce the use of local cassava to help reduce the importation of wheat products which is among the top 10 commodities imported.

According to Extavour, cassava is an ideal crop since it has global potential, has demonstrated to be climate smart, is one of the most drought tolerant crops available today given the ongoing changes in climate, it doesn’t require a lot of water unlike sweet potato, dasheen and eddoes.

She said cassava is hardy and it can also stay in the ground for extended periods, depending on the variety and climatic conditions and lends itself to creating new job opportunities for further development into other commercial products.

The FAO expert urged the private sector to engage consumers and underscored the need for a public/private sector partnership in order to increase consumer awareness.

“It has to be in partnership with the private sector for your bakeries to come on board and say yes we are going to join you in promoting this product and we also believe it has benefit, not just for national development but also a competitive price point because people are in business to earn revenue,” she said.
END

IICA REGIONAL CLIMATE SMART COMPETITION GIVES FARMERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO MITIGATE RISKS AND WIN PRICES 

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Photo (L_R): Augustine Merchant, Coordinator, IICA Delegation in St. Kitts and Nevis; Eric Evelyn, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture NIA; Melvin James, Director of Agriculture; Conrad Kelly, Agricultural Resource Management Unit (ARM); Dominic Matthew, Marketing Manager TDC; Andy Blanchette, Institutional Liaison; Alistair Edwards, Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Agriculture

Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 31, 2016 (SKNIS):  On Wednesday morning (March 30), The Inter- American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) launched the regional ‘Climate Smart Agriculture: Stories from Farmers in the Eastern Caribbean States’ competition in St. Kitts.

 
According to Augustine Merchant, Coordinator of the IICA delegation in St. Kitts and Nevis, the competition will focus on developing and documenting farming technologies and practices with the aim of responding to climate change and its impacts on member countries.

 
Mr. Merchant explained that farmers must become cognizant of the fact that climate change poses a serious threat to their livelihoods, noting that, “the competition aims at identifying and raising awareness of successful cases of innovative and replicative agricultural technologies or practices that contribute to farmers’ resilience and adaptation to climatic change.”

 
Mr. Merchant added that IICA really wants “farmers in St. Kitts to see being climate smart as a way of life. It should be part of what they are doing and that is the real reason behind this competition.”

 
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Alistair Edwards, urged farmers to take advantage of the opportunity afforded to them by the competition. He said that he is of the view that “this a chance for you to help. This is a win -win situation, because whatever you do in terms of adapting of mitigating climate change is a win.”

 
Describing the competition as a “meaningful project” Permanent Secretary Edwards, said, “I want to express sincere thanks to IICA. We really want to thank them as a valuable partner to the Ministry of Agriculture.”

 
The competition will run from March 30 through the end of April. Winners will be informed one month after the competition closes.

 
The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is the specialized agency of the Inter-American System that provides technical cooperation on agriculture. St. Kitts and Nevis is one of the 34 member states of IICA. IICA promotes competitive, inclusive and sustainable agriculture that feeds the hemisphere and the world, while at the same time generating opportunities to reduce hunger and poverty among farmers and rural dwellers.

 
The Institute has its headquarters in Costa Rica, and offices in 34 countries of the Americas, as well as Office for Europe located in Madrid, Spain. The Directorate for Strategic Partnerships works out of IICA Office in Washington, D.C.  

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GIANT AFRICAN SNAIL AWARENESS

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17th March, 2016

PRESS RELEASE

The Department of Agriculture takes this opportunity to inform the general public about an imminent pest threat to the Federation. We are soliciting the cooperation and support of the general public where necessary for vigilance against this pest threat.
The Achatina fulica or “Giant African Snail” is considered one of the most invasive species in the world and it is considered by the St. Kitts Department of Agriculture as one of the most damaging species for agricultural crops, forest species and ornamental plants in the country if introduced. It is known to feed on at least 500 different species of plants including legume crops, ornamental plants, vegetables and the bark of large trees such as citrus and pawpaw. These snails are herbivores with a ferocious appetite, capable of destroying a wide variety of plants, fruits and vegetables. They also need calcium in order to ensure their shell stays very strong, so they will consume more of particular types of plants in order to get enough of the calcium they need. When they arent able to get enough calcium in their diet from plants, they may feed on carcasses, sand or small stones to get it. They also extract small amounts of water from the food they consume as well.

What the Giant African Snail looks like
Adult snails are very large with a long, narrow, cone-shaped shell. The shell is usually 50 to 100 millimetres (mm) long but can reach up to 200 mm. They can vary in colour however they are usually brown, with alternating brown and cream bands on their whorls. All adult snails have both male and female sexual organs.
Eggs are 4.5 to 5.5 mm in diameter and are cream to yellow in colour. They are oval in shape and each batch can have between 100 and 400 eggs. In a typical year, every mated adult lays about 1200 eggs.

What to look for
Adult snails can be found attached to shipping containers, machinery and motor vehicles. Sometimes, snail trails may also be seen. Eggs can be carried in soil associated with imported goods.

How to assist?
If you wish to report a suspected case, call the Department of Agriculture, La Guerite at 869 465 2335 ext 1826, or email quarantineassistantstk@gmail.com

We thank you for your assistance and support in this endeavour to prevent the introduction and spread of the Giant African Snail in St. Kitts that may harm the agricultural and horticultural sectors.
N.B: The Giant African Snail is NOT known to be present in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Climate change takes centre stage at Nevis’ 22nd Agriculture Open Day

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Photo caption: Keithley Amory, Director of the Department of Agriculture on Nevis

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 18, 2016) — Keithley Amory Director of the Department of Agriculture on Nevis says the effects of climate change has forced the department to adopt technology in order to maximise agricultural production.

 

He made the comment when he delivered remarks at the opening ceremony of the Ministry of Agriculture’s 22nd Annual Open Day at the Villa Grounds in Charlestown on March 17, 2016. The island’s premier agricultural event which concluded on March 18, 2016, is being held under the patronage of Dulcina Brookes. The theme is “Adapting to Climate Change to achieve Greater Food Security.”

 

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Photo caption: Exhibits on Water Harvesting and Erosion Control on display at the 22nd Ministry of Agriculture Open Day at the Villa Grounds in Charlestown on March 17, 2016

Amory said this year’s Open Day highlights climate change and provides awareness of the phenomenon to farmers and the public.

 

He pointed to the changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, flowering pattern of fruit trees and the high incidence of pests and diseases which ultimately affect the island’s agricultural production and food security.

 

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Photo caption: Rohan Claxton, Livestock Extension Officer in the Department of Agriculture explains dry season livestock production to students of the St. James’ Primary School at the Ministry of Agriculture Open Day at the Villa Grounds in Charlestown on March 17, 2016

According to Amory, over the years both the Ministry and Department of Agriculture stresses the need for increased production in crops, livestock and fishing and the need for the people of Nevis to consume more of what is produced on the island.

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Photo caption: Booths of some of the Ministry of Agriculture’s allied agencies (l-r) the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the University of the West Indies and the Republic of China Taiwan (ROC) at its 22nd Annual Open Day at the Villa Grounds in Charlestown on March 17, 2016

He stated that the various exhibits from the Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries, some of them pictorial, are showing how to adopt various technologies to adapt to the changing climate patterns to help to achieve greater food security.

 

Amory noted that the ministry’s allied agencies – The Republic of China Taiwan (ROC), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the University of the West Indies also joined in showcasing the various technologies and methodologies on how to adapt to climate change.

 

He used the opportunity to thank staff and workers in the Ministry and Department of Agriculture and sponsors for their continued support.

END

 

 

 

 

Dept. of Agriculture on Nevis honours its own; Dulcina Brookes-Byron named patron for 22nd Annual Open Day activities

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Photo caption: Premier of Nevis Hon. Vance Amory presents a plaque to the Department of Agriculture’s 22nd Annual Open Day Patron Dulcina Brookes-Byron at the opening ceremony at the Villa Grounds on March 17, 2016

 

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 17, 2016) — Dulcina Brookes-Byron, a 53-year veteran labourer at the Department of Agriculture on Nevis is the patron for the department’s 22nd Annual Open Day. She was honoured at the Opening Ceremony of the two-day event at the Villa Grounds in Charlestown on March 17, 2016.

 

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Photo caption: Premier of Nevis Hon. Vance Amory presents a fruit basket to the Department of Agriculture’s 22nd Annual Open Day Patron Dulcina Brookes-Byron at the opening ceremony at the Villa Grounds on March 17, 2016

Premier of Nevis Hon. Vance Amory, who stood in for Minister of Agriculture Hon. Alexis Jeffers, presented the 2016 Patron with a plaque and a fruit basket on behalf of the Department of Agriculture.

 

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Photo caption: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Eric Evelyn reading the profile of the Department of Agriculture’s 22nd Annual Open Day Patron Dulcina Brookes-Byron at the opening ceremony at the Villa Grounds on March 17, 2016

Presenting her profile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Eric Evelyn said Brookes-Byron is affectionately known as “Molly” and described her continued service as dedicated and committed.

 

He said she began working with the department in 1962 at Low Ground Estate picking castor seeds when she was 20 years old. 

 

The 2016 Agriculture Open Day Patron can be considered a woman of strength, Mr. Evelyn said, who endured enormous hardship but never gave up

 

“When she took up employment in the field of Agriculture, she had to survive on a meagre wage which didn’t see any major increases for a very long time.

 

In her earlier days with the department, she worked hard and left her mark at all the government owned estates – Indian Castle, New River, Eden Browne, Potworks, Cades Bay and Prospect. However, most of her work is concentrated at Prospect where she continues to work.

 

Her duties range from planting, weeding and harvesting crops. She works with all the crops produced by the department including vegetables, root crops and cotton.

 

Mr. Evelyn said she is involved in all aspects of agricultural work there, among them the production of vegetables, root crops, fruit trees and seedlings.

 

She was also described as one who takes pride in her work, is very regular.

 

Mr. Evelyn said Molly who has a quiet demeanour, continues to be respectful to her supervisors, loves her work and has no regrets regarding the 53 years she has spent so far with the department.

 

However, the Permanent Secretary said she is tough and has the ability to handle the hard work involved in the agriculture industry.

 

He quoted Molly as saying she thoroughly enjoys all the years she has spent with the department. 

 

Evelyn said the Ministry and the Department of Agriculture Co-operatives and Fisheries is delighted to honour one of their own. He thanked her for her hard work, dedication and contribution to the development of Nevis.

END

 

 

 

IICA spearheads Mango Value Addition training in St. Kitts and Nevis

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Photo caption:  A variety of mango-based juices on display at the Ministry of Agriculture’s conference room at Prospect during the closing ceremony for a recent mango value addition training workshop at the Agro Processing Unit on Nevis facilitated by the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Departments of Agriculture on St. Kitts and Nevis
 

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 15, 2016) — As the Federation prepares to welcome another crop of mangoes, Agro Processors and other stakeholders in the Agriculture Industry benefited from training in value addition of the fruit spearheaded by the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). 

 

The workshop was held in partnership with the Departments of Agriculture in St Kitts and in Nevis.  A two-day training was held in St. Kitts on February 16-17, 2016, and a similar exercise was held in Nevis on February 18-19, 2016. 

 

The training focused primarily on the preparation of drinks, pure mango and various combinations, some of which were on display at the close of the workshop.

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Photo caption: (l-r) Dr. Don Mercer facilitator of value added training workshop, Mr. Augustine Merchant IICA representative for St Kitts and Nevis and Mr. Dwight Browne Agro Processing Officer in the Department of Agriculture on Nevis at the Ministry of Agriculture’s conference room at Prospect during the closing ceremony of a recent training workshop on mango value addition hosted by the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in partnership with Departments of Agriculture on St. Kitts and Nevis

In a brief opening ceremony at the Nevis workshop, Mr. Augustine Merchant IICA representative for St Kitts and Nevis noted the importance of preparing mango products in a hygienic manner. He indicated that IICA was pleased to spearhead the training workshop.

 

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture on Nevis Mr. Eric Evelyn used the opportunity to endorse the activity.

 

He said the training came at an opportune time when the ministry was preparing for the 22nd Agriculture Open Day on March 17-18, the annual Fruit Festival and was partnering with the Nevis Tourism Authority to host the Mango Madness Street Fair. The Festival and the Fair will take place in July during the peak of the mango season.

 

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Photo caption: Participants at the at the Ministry of Agriculture’s conference room at Prospect during the closing ceremony of a recent training workshop on mango value addition hosted by the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in partnership with Departments of Agriculture on St. Kitts and Nevis

 
Participants registered their satisfaction for the intuitive and the facilitator and indicated that they had benefitted from the training exercise. 

 

They also noted that the public can look forward to a number of new mango products during activities organized by the Department of Agriculture.

 

The training exercise was facilitated by Dr. Don Mercer, a professor at Guelph University in Canada.  Practical sessions were held at the Department of Agriculture’s Agro Processing Center.  

 

Dr. Mercer facilitated a similar training programme in October 2015, in St. Kitts. The focus was on other by-products that can be produced from mangos.

END

 

 

 

MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE PROVIDES STIMULUS FOR LOCAL FARMERS TO PRODUCE MORE

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Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 07, 2016 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Agriculture is providing a market for local farmers by encouraging the rejuvenation of the St. Kitts Bee Keepers Cooperative, as well as setting a trend for agro-processors to expand their market.

Alistair Edwards, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, said that plans are already in place to assist the St. Kitts Bee Keepers Cooperative, as well as the Agro-Processors.

“They have already been given lands in the Belmont area to place their hives,” he said. “We have identified a building where they can do their processing of the honey and we will purchase some equipment to sell to them at little less than market cost.”

The permanent secretary stated that by providing the bee keepers with the necessary resources, it would effectively help in the production of honey and said that the ministry sees no hindrance towards the increased production.

He noted that this will be very beneficial to the economy due to the fact that honey is a product that St. Kitts and Nevis imports on a large scale, while adding that the marketability of honey has a high price on the local and international market.

“If we can produce our own, we will be saving a lot of foreign exchange, as honey comes mainly from Canada and North America,” he said.

Equally important is the Agro-Processing Unit which is located at Needsmust. Mr. Edwards noted that raw materials are purchased from local farmers and processed into a number of different things which are already on the shelves in the supermarkets and some hotels are already using the products.

At present, the Agro-Processing Unit produces breadfruit, pumpkin and cassava flours, plantain and sweet potato chips, sorrel, cane and carambola (five finger)  juices, as well as dry foods such as prunes, wax apples and mangoes, just to name a few.

 

Nevis Dept. of Agriculture embarks on breadfruit and breadnut developmental strategy.

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NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (December 01, 2015) – The Department of Agriculture on Nevis has embarked on the first phase of the developmental strategy for the breadfruit and breadnut technology by recently hosting a workshop under the theme “Way forward for Breadfruit and Breadnut Industry in St. Kitts-Nevis.”

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Photo caption: Manager of the Agro Processing Unit Mr. Dwight Browne (file photo)

Manager of the Agro Processing Unit Mr. Dwight Browne who served as chairman of the meeting, said that in September, 2013 Ministries of Agriculture on St. Kitts and Nevis, in a joint effort to gain National Food Security, contacted the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for assistance. FAO and the Ministries coordinated their efforts by selecting the breadfruit and breadnut crops to improve food security on the islands.

 

Technical Officer for FAO Mr. Heiko Bammann, who is responsible for the development of the breadfruit and breadnut project in St. Kitts and Nevis, revealed that a strategy has

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been designed for a 10-year period for the implementation of these food crops.

 

Photo caption: Technical Officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization Mr. Heiko Bammann

Mr. Bammann in support of the Ministries efforts to sustain the nation, indicated that although the region is faced with increasing import bills, the breadfruit crop can combat the trend.

He also stated that this project is a long term development which started in 2011 when the government received its first assistance from FAO in breadfruit and breadnut technology.

“It’s for the next generation and they will benefit from it. The crops will give food for the next 50 years. Even if hurricanes come they just need natural pruning and they wil

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l come up again,” Mr. Bammann said.

He also advised that St. Kitts and Nevis decide on the best way forward for the breadfruit and breadnut project to become viable.

 

Photo caption: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Eric Evelyn (file photo)

Meantime, Permanent Secretary, in the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Eric Evelyn, remarked that the workshop was one of the strategies employed to assist in the effective implementation of the breadfruit and breadnut industry.

He was hopeful the workshop would be instrumental in generating an increase in the number of products that can be developed from these commodities.

Mr. Evelyn also stated that the two week ses

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sion previously conducted at the Agro-processing plants on St. Kitts to expose agro processors on both islands to the various processing skills involved in the development of products from the breadfruit and breadnut crop, were fully endorsed by the Ministry.

Photo caption: Director of Agriculture on Nevis Mr. Keithley Amory (file photo)
 
Additionally, Director of Agriculture on Nevis Mr. Keithley Amory, commented that he expected the participants of the workshop to develop workable strategies for the breadfruit and breadnut technology. He also hoped for the successful establishment of the food crop industry to ensure food security.

Also present at the workshop were National Consultant for FAO Mr. Conrad Kelly and Project Director of Agriculture in St. Kitts Ms. Raquel Williams-Isgrey.

 

END

 

 

 

 

FOOD SAFETY OF KEY IMPORTANCE TO GENERAL HEALTH.

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(SKNIS Photo: Senior Environmental Health Officer Glenville Leader.)

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 20, 2015 (SKNIS): The Food Safety Unit of the Environmental Health Department was positioned as lead agency for this year’s World Health Day activities when this year’s theme was declared as “Food Safety.”

Senior Environmental Health Officer Glenville Leader, with responsibility for food safety, said that the activities for the week were well executed and included media-related events such as the global airing of a World Health Organisation food safety video, as well as the airing of the Five Keys to Food Safety, which are the most important things to be considered to ensure food is safe for consumption.

Mr. Leader explained that the first key to food safety was a simple yet critical one. 

“Keep clean,” he emphasized noting the importance of personal hygiene as well.  “We talking about how it is important for you to keep the establishment clean, keep your hands clean when you go to the bathroom.  If you handled raw food before you go to processed and cooked food – you should wash your hands, if you handled money – you should wash your hands.  So ensure the general cleanliness of the establishment including oneself.  It is very important because there are a number of diseases that can spread from the person to the food.”

The Senior Environmental Officer said that the other keys were: separate raw and cooked food, cook food to the correct internal temperature, after cooking – keep food at a safe temperature and use safe, clean, potable water.

The food handler’s clinic is a continuous task carried out by his unit to ensure that vendors, and food establishments such as restaurants and hotels have safe food practices.

“We give them [people attending the clinics] information pertaining to food, how they should prepare food, how they should store food.  They also get an exam in which they have to write so that we can access their knowledge in terms of food safety.  So we put them in groups, so that they can discuss, giving them about 15 questionnaires and they discuss it as a group and then we discuss it collectively.  So it is important for that to happen and we go through all of the things that are necessary to keep food safe.”

Identifying food that is contaminated is another skill that persons attending the training sessions have to acquire.  As such, they are given food samples and told to identify what is wrong.

Once the training requirements are met, the successful applicant then has to go to the doctor in order to receive a medical certificate. 

This is presented to the environmental health department along with two photos, one of which is placed on the food handlers’ permit.

Mr. Leader noted that another activity traditionally carried out by his unit are spot checks.  He explained that these are surprise visits that are paid to street vendors, hotels and restaurants.  Steps taken by the Environmental Health Department have ranged from warnings given to owners or managers and advice given on how to remove infectious agents and make the establishment’s food safe to the temporary closing of the place of business.