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Government Ministries embark on coconut tree planting campaign    12/5/2014 9:50:00 AM    ReadCount:446

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – IN an effort to resuscitate the coconut population that had fallen victim to diseases such as lethal yellowing and bud rot, three Government Ministries have teamed up to replant thousands of trees around the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.
At a launching ceremony held yesterday (Dec. 3) at the St. Kitts Department of Agriculture, it was announced that the three Government entities involved in the tree planting initiative are the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Constituency Empowerment and the Ministry of Sustainable Development.
Speaking at the launch, Acting Director of Agriculture Ian Chapman said: “The national response is a multi-facet approach to addressing the problem that has plagued the country since 2007 or thereabouts. We are indeed delighted that several Ministries have come on board to help us replant the trees in Phase One.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has committed over 300 acres of land in Mansion and other areas of St. Kitts for food security.”
Tourism Minister Hon. Richard Skerritt highlighted the importance of coconut trees on St. Kitts and Nevis and labelled it as an industry.
“The coconut tree is an industry in the making, and St. Kits and Nevis coconut industry has had issues. Coconut is used for all kind of manufacturing products…it is not always necessarily a food. Basically, a Caribbean island is not a Caribbean island without coconut trees.”
He added that the death of the trees has caused great despair to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The coconut industry is part of our culture. St. Kitts and Nevis citizens looked with dismay, concern and anguish as we saw the trees dying around us. I remember when I first saw the impact, approaching Nevis from the sea and you looked across Pinney’s Beach you see the enormity of the damage.
“Those of us who live in Basseterre and who visit the better looking side of the island would have been shocked when we drove between Dieppe Bay and St. Paul’s and you saw what was happening to the four or five hundred trees in that area. It was a part of the landscape. Since you were a boy or girl you grew up seeing this.”
He also congratulated all who had made the initiative possible.
In his remarks, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas declared that such an initiative was welcomed by him and he had been waiting on it for years.
“The launch of this campaign is music to my ears, simply because coconut farming is part of the historic, environmental, economic and sustainable plan scheme of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
He then reflected on some memories he had of the abundance of coconut trees that once graced the island.
“When I went to school as a boy in Basseterre, we could have stayed in the truck. When we got to Old Road we could have stayed in the truck and we would always be reminded of the palm trees in the Winfield area as our landscape. So today it really warms my heart to know that something has taken place.”
Dr. Douglas highlighted some of the uses of coconut from a medical standpoint.
“I believe that our ancestors and the older people in our community today have always indicated that it was important for us to drink coconut water…I want to say to you as a medical doctor that coconut water is very, very important. If you had a good workout one of the things you would want to drink is some coconut water.”
He also informed other important uses of coconut, such as providing potassium and assisting in brain development.

The tree planting campaign has already begun and members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force are also contributing to this intiative.
By: Loshaun Dixon