St Kitts – Nevis farmers should not be quarantined, facing threats to food security

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

BASSETERRE, St Kitts –  A State of Emergency and 24-hour curfew has been in existence for three weeks, the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) said to the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity government and that local crop farmers cannot continue to be quarantined, in the face of a threat to food security and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Crop farmers must be seen as our ‘bird in the hand’ and we are sure of that. If the food crop farmers are not allowed to go and look after their crops, it is ‘open day for monkeys’ on our farms,” said Tristram Mills, who called into Tuesday’s weekly radio programme hosted by Dr Denzil L Douglas, political leader of the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP).

Mills predicted that no local food crops will be available by August if the necessary measures are not taken to increase food crop production.

“Farmers cannot be quarantined, they cannot lock down farmers, especially at a time like this,” said Mills, who called for the present situation to be addressed with the implementation of special provisions.

Prominent Nevisian farmer, Dr Kelvin Daley also questioned on whose advise the decision was first made to limit crop farmers to a time of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily to tend to their food crops and livestock.

“If you are talking about pig farmers, poultry farmers, they are in a different category and those persons require time to look for their animals, feed them and make sure there are not other detrimental issues, such as busted pipes, etc. Two hours is not enough,” said Daley, who indicated that he is now aware that additional time  4 p.m. to 6 p.m. was recently implemented on Nevis.

“If you are a root crop farmer these hours are not enough if you are talking about food security. If you are talking about making sure that you stay on your operation to protect your crop from monkeys or roaming animals, I do not see the logic behind it,” said Daley, who further pointed out that most crop farmers are independent, single or family operations and not a mass of people.

“I do not know of any mass of farmers congregating at any one farm so social distancing should not be an issue regarding the operations of a farm,” said Daley.

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