Nevis to increase food production as it prepares for COVID-19
Premier Mark Brantley
As an island dependent on tourism and trade for its economic survival, Nevis is readying itself to deal with the coronavirus fallout.
During a press conference on Monday Premier Mark Brantley said the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) has taken an all-inclusive and pro-active approach to managing the potential impact of the coronavirus on its people, but given the nature and rapid spread of the virus, he thinks it imperative that citizens continue to pray for the best while preparing for the worst.
“I however urge you not to be overly alarmed. While we have seen the hysteria which has gripped much of the world, we encourage you to resist the temptation to react to the impending circumstances irrationally. That is not who we are as a Nevisian people. There are many who are actively engaged in disseminating false information and creating panic. I urge you to access your information from the government as our professionals will be updating you regularly with accurate information,” he said.
Premier Brantley gave the assurance that the risks associated with the outbreak are being effectively anticipated, managed and planned for.
He said “My Cabinet believes that our actions going forward must be prudent and sensible taking into account a sober assessment of risk and our level of preparedness. Shutting off Nevis from the rest of the world has serious implications for our small economy, our food and fuel supply and our way of life. We believe that what is necessary now is a sensible and pragmatic approach. As your government we shall continue to be calm and consultative in our assessment and decision making.”
Also at the top of the NIAs agenda, is securing the islands food supply.
Premier Brantley said major supermarkets have given the assurance that the supply of imported food is not yet at risk.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture has been instructed to immediately seek to put more short-term food crops under cultivation and consult with crop, meat and poultry farmers to determine how the government could better incentivize a rapid increase in production.
The Nevis Premier said he has also written to banks and other financial houses asking for a bit of lenience on behalf of the hundreds of workers who have been affected by hotel cancellations and cruise calls.
“As Minister of Finance, I have also today written formally to the Banks and other financial houses on Nevis asking them to proactively manage their relationships with the Nevisian people to ensure that proper arrangements can be made for those clients (especially those in the tourism industry) who might suffer a falloff in pay during this difficult period. I am hereby appealing to the business sector to maintain steady prices and not hike prices in this difficult time. We are in this fight together and I urge the private sector to partner with us in these efforts.”
Premier Brantley said the NIA is working to preserve the economic health and wellbeing of all Nevisians.