Minister of Agriculture leads delegation to successful meeting in Cuba

25th March 2019

 

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Hon. Dean Jonas, lead a delegation to Cuba which resulted in substantial gains for the agriculture sector in Antigua and Barbuda.

The minister , who was accompanied by Ambassador Daven Joseph and Deputy Director of Agriculture Cheryl Edwards,  has in previous forums,  underscored the importance of building the framework for increased livestock and poultry production, if Antigua and Barbuda is to be self sufficient in meat production and meat products.

Livestock and poultry farmers are already embracing the new and exciting development plans outlined by the ministry, at a standing room only meeting that was held at the ministry’s headquarters earlier this month.

According to the Acting Director of Agriculture, the purpose of the just concluded visit to Cuba was to discuss some amendments to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed in 2016 with the Republic of Cuba, to provide technical support for Antigua and Barbuda’s National Food Security and Sovereignty Action Plan.

During the meeting, discussions focused on support in the development of the livestock sector, with the initial emphasis on pork and poultry using cutting edge technology.

Support for the commercial production of corn, cotton, cassava and sweet potato, to develop feeding systems for the proposed expanded life-stock sector, was also discussed.

Ms. Edwards noted that support in the expansion of the agro-forestry sector, particularly in the area of providing planting material for various tropical fruit crops was also among other major items on the agenda.

Support in the apiculture industry with other value added products such as royal Jelly, Rain water harvesting and irrigation systems, were other crucial areas that generated much discussions at the meeting.

The culmination of these discussions resulted in the signing of a Contract of Agreement to provide technical assistance services and products, between the Republic of Cuba and Antigua & Barbuda, which will lead to a cooperation agreement pertaining to agricultural development between both countries.

A brigade of 13 specialists will be arriving in Antigua in May.

The experts will include nine veterinarians with specialties in reproduction, nutrition and bee genetics; three water engineers who will also assist in agro-forestry and fruit crops; and one geologist to assist with water mapping and expansion.

The Chief Vet calls for more full-time Livestock Farmers

The Chief Vet calls for more full-time Livestock Farmers

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Tubal Edwards would like to see more Livestock Farmers get into the business on a full-time basis.

He made the point during a recent panel discussion which was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture at the Multipurpose Cultural Center.

The topic focused on how Antigua and Barbuda can achieve the Zero Hunger goal by 2030. The Zero Hunger Challenge was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012.

The Zero Hunger vision reflects five elements from within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which taken together, can end hunger, eliminate all forms of malnutrition and build inclusive and sustainable food systems.

The chief veterinary officer noted that for the livestock industry to play a more meaningful role in achieving this global target, it cannot be business as usual in the way the sector operates.

Dr. Edwards reported that one of the concerns facing livestock development in Antigua and Barbuda is that many farmers are not full-time livestock farmers. This does not augur well for where he envisions the sector in a few years.

“They are basically part time farmers who have a job in the day and then when they get home, that’s when they take the opportunity to interact with their animals. This should not continue because if we are aiming towards zero hunger by the year 2030, we have to change that mentally,” Dr. Edwards stated. We need some persons to become full time livestock farmers. At this rate, we need to secure some of the lands that we have for livestock.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Edwards announced that that the government has taken the initiative to work along with other countries, including Cuba, to introduce new expertise to enhance the livestock sector.

A Technical Brigade is due to arrive here from Cuba to assist with specialized techniques in assisted reproduction for livestock farmers, resulting in rapid improvement in the pedigree of farm animals.

The Chief Vet also noted that in Antigua, there has been a decline in the livestock population compared to years ago.

It has moved from over one hundred thousand animals to a population of just a few thousand heads of animals which include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry.

Dr. Edwards said that although there have been repeated complaints by some livestock farmers that more land is needed to develop the sector, this alone will not help to reach the goal of zero hunger for all. Introducing new methods in livestock practices is among the key elements that are required to reach the desired goal.

Dr. Edwards stressed that farmers should not allow their animals to roam, but rather introduce a semi-intensive method where the cut and carry system is adopted and has proven to be very effective.

Other issues raised at the public forum were the issue of roaming animals destroying people’s property and the use of Bayticol to destroy ticks.

Dr. Edwards shared two options where redress can be sought – make a report to the police/extension officer or make a report to the Pound, which is still operational.

In terms of Bayticol use, the Chief Vet assured that it is not harmful to humans.

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The field collection exercise of Snails continues

22nd November 2018

Efforts continue in earnest to remove the invasive Giant African Snail from the environment, through a number of government initiatives managed by the Plant Protection Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs. Remember! the Giant African Snail is most active in moist, cool conditions. Persons are encouraged to take the following course of action when dealing with the snails.

1. With gloved or covered hands, collect all sizes of snails, dead or alive and place them in a garbage bag or container. Pour salt on the snails then cover or tie the container to prevent escape.

2. Always wash hands with warm, soapy water after handling snails.

3. Do not play with the snails or use them as pets.

4. Snails hide at the roots of high grass or bushy areas. They also seek refuge in heaps of debris or garbage.

We will share further tips in our next publication and we would like to say special thanks to Senior Plant Protection Officer, Mrs. Kishma Primus-Ormond for taking the Photos. Seen here are some highlights of our Field Collection Exercise.