Four Seasons Resort important to Nevis Agricultural Sector, says Minister

Minister of Agriculture on Nevis Hon. Robelto Hector underscored the importance of the Four Seasons Resort, Nevis to the agricultural sector on the island, at a recent sitting of the Nevis Island Assembly at Hamilton House in Charlestown. He pointed to the immeasurable contributions the hotel had made to the sector as the major client.

Mr. Hector was at the time lending his support to a Resolution tabled in the Assembly by Premier of Nevis and Minister of Tourism in the Nevis Island Administration Hon. Joseph Parry (NIA) on the acclaimed establishment.

In the resolution which came about four weeks ahead of the hotel’s planned December 15th reopening after a two year closure, Mr. Parry recorded the Assembly’s greatest appreciation for the efforts of the Resort and all who made positive contributions to its reopening. He pledged the Administration’s continued support to the Resort, in the hope that it would continue to serve the Nevis economy well for years to come.

The Agriculture Minister presented statistics on the throughput between the Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Division and the Four Seasons from 2006 to 2010, to hammer home his point, that the Hotel had provided a better way of life for the island’ people but more so the farmers, fishers and beekeepers of Nevis who had struggled during the closure.

This is only the records of the Marketing Division in 2006 – $121,000; in 2007 just about $150,000 from vegetable and fruits sold to the Four Seasons; in 2008 and I must remind this House that that was the time of Hurricane Omar, we had moved in excess of $370, 000 throughput out of this one client the Four Seasons Resort… Struggle, struggled and we recognise in 2010 we are yet to put a mark to raise one dollar from this institution

The Agriculture Minister presented statistics on the throughput between the Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Division and the Four Seasons from 2006 to 2010, to hammer home his point, that the Hotel had provided a better way of life for the island’ people but more so the farmers, fishers and beekeepers of Nevis who had struggled during the closure.

This is just the records from the Marketing Division. I want to say to you, by private arrangement there are also farmers that are able to benefit from sending agricultural produce to the Four Seasons Resort,” he said.

With regard to meat, poultry and fish Mr. Hector explained that returns had reached an all-time high for those farmers from 2006 and also provided statistics to support his claim.

Meat products – 2006 we raised some $67,000; 2007 – $73,000 and by 2008 about $81,000 and to show the decline, I must tell you the Abattoir would have been only able to raise a meagre $4,681 as a value in 2009. With the work that is going on there, in 2010 we are seeing $4,000 to date.

Madame President I must say to you that the poultry industry also benefitted from the opening of the Four Seasons Resort. It is my estimation that some $250,000 is earned by our poultry producers from the same single source. Our Fishermen too [benefitted] and from the information I received, it is somewhere about $500,000 per year in fish products going to the Four Seasons market. So Madame President when I said the Farmers had trying times, the Farmers had hard times for the past two years [and] I want this country to understand,” he said.

However, Mr. Hector said in the face of the trying times, the NIA stood with the farmers and tried ways to cushion the financial blow on the sector. At that time the by local campaign was in full gear and there were repeated calls for supermarkets and the public to support the island’s farmers.

During that time the Agriculture Minister explained that there were efforts which have reaped success, to tighten and revive the cooperative on the island. He also spoke of the work done to boost the agro processing sector to compliment the farmer’s work but that was not without its share of hiccups nonetheless he called for corporation in the interest of all.

I want to say also at that time we sought to deepen the agro processing industry. I must report to this Honourable House, that we too had challenges. Some members of the Agro Processing Industry who are more politicians than agro processors they sought to derail the process.

Madame President I would say to you, we have had agitation asking for Memorandum of Understanding in order to continue to be a part of the Agro Processing Industry and the utilisation of that agro processing building that we have put forward. Madame President, I want to call on such persons to desist, there’s no need for a fight,” he said.

The Minister noted that the NIA had invested in the Agro Processing Industry because it had recognised the vast potential the sector offered. He urged the agro processors to not dabble in politics but instead think of the growth of the industry which could bring employment, an export market and by extension foreign exchange to Nevis.

Mr. Hector referred to the closure of Four Seasons Resort as dark times which he said the Department and Minister of Agriculture did not let hinder the annual Agriculture Open Day or the Fruit Festival. Both events provided an avenue where farmers were able to showcase their produce on the local market.

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  1. Sad that The Four Seasons Hotel in Nevis has closed causing the island’s agricultural sector to suffer. I pray that measures be put in place to ensure that this agriculturally motivated island does not waiver from its mandate and that with innovative plans, it will continue to show the Caribbean how a good agricultural sector can be achieved and is important. From the above, it appears they are not closing their mind-doors, but are moving towards finding other ways to continue in that vein. Just a thought – perhaps the hotel in St. Kitts we stayed in could be their next ‘buyer’ of fresh produce – their main restaurant had nothing fresh on their menu, the Chef looked at me in disbelief when I asked for local food and did not even know what a Scotch Bonnet was! Shameful! There we were in St. Kitts with Ministers of Agriculture from many islands in the Caribbean on a seminar to do with agri-tourism and offered Italian cuisine made with imported products. I was horrified!! And refused to eat there…

    Okay let me start from the beginning…I visited St. Kitts with IICA Barbados – a seminar organized by Mrs. Ena Harvey to promote agri-tourism in 2006 (I believe). As a side line we took a trip to Nevis. I was so impressed with what I saw and learned that I used Nevis as the perfect agriculture/tourism model for the Caribbean in my writings with The Gleaner and other Caribbean magazines. I urged other islands to see what could be done if only the political hand would move as it did in Nevis – sixteen thousand people (the population then) with jobs enabled everyone to have a good home, (I thought some of them were small villas belonging to the rich and famous but one actually was the home of the gentleman driving the bus! and we were told that because of this food exchange that Nevis was into, everyone had a chance for such). Children from 2 years old in school in uniform began their education which followed forward until ready for the world. No crime (I was told there one thief on the island and everyone knew him – and he would be leaving the island before Christmas!). There were some 200 people ‘unemployed’ and they were mostly women at home with their children, and even so they were involved in craft making – another vibrant sector or producing jams, jellies, sauces, sweets etc etc

    The Ministry of Agriculture had forced The Four Seasons before opening their doors to meet with them as to their ‘food’ needs. This same Ministry then put whatever it took in place to meet as much of those demands as possible, as long as Nevis could provide it, there would be no need for imports of those particular items. I was told this was so adhered to that when the Ministry got wind of a container slipping through the rules, it was immediately turned back! Not allowed because Nevis could provide. I saw the farms – they were beautiful…from cattle, pig, chicken, sheep and goat to every imaginable produce able to grow on their land – all at the high standards that the hotel themselves set, adhered to. As the agricultural sector (including the fisheries) provided more than what the hotel could take, those who had homes there from locals to visitors could also enjoy the fruits of their labour!

    Our contingent looking on at all of this were overjoyed. We were also given a wonderful reception outdoors with all local cuisine and beverages made by the ladies of the island. Sweet. So proud these people were not only of their offerings but the fact that we were here to ‘study’ the model. Oh! And I just loved the signs all over Nevis that ensured the people understood the messages of keeping their island clean, their visitors contented, their environment not spoiled – they never gave a command, they asked a question and allowed the person reading it to answer it for themselves. Brilliant.

    Dark times or not…I say there is no reason for our Agricultural sector not to be as vibrant as the one in Nevis…it is all a simple matter of supply and demand…it is all a matter of giving the farmers their due in terms of proper payment for their offerings, farm to table contracts should be in place, farmers need better organization with what they should be growing in order to supply what is required (i.e no gluts on tomatoes one month and then a scarcity of same the next) and more respect, of course. Mostly they require NO PRAEDIAL LARCENY. Barbados’ agricultural sector has every basic required to allow good organic practices and this country should be able to feed its people far more than it is already…that’s my opinion and the opinion of many in the know…

    Unfortunately farmers face huge obstacles constantly and imports are allowed with impunity (some of them being even hazardous to the country’s health! because no one is really policing what is getting through to our people). All it takes is a good start for the domino effect to take place…like forcing the hand of the new Seasons Hotel here – perhaps some sort of commitment from them is required…did the government here not “bail out” the project? So how about a little “giving-back” eh? And please LET NO ONE MAKE THE MISTAKE OF TELLING ME (OR IICA BARBADOS OR THE FARMERS FOR THAT MATTER) THAT IT CANNOT BE DONE. BECAUSE IT CAN!

    Open your eyes government to the savings…Minister of Agriculture…the rumour was you were not happy with your appointment. Your Prime Minister – the late and most Honourable Thompson has left you with a chance to leave your own huge legacy for this island ? he must have known you were the man for the job, the only man for the job because he gave it to YOU! It will take time but you could become a food hero if you pursue the path of re-organizing the agricultural sector so it works.There is much to be done, but you can succeed. Again I repeat BECAUSE YOU CAN. Bless.


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