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St. Kitts & Nevis

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The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on behalf of the St. Kitts and Nevis Agricultural Youth Forum and the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) requested the assistance of FAVACA to provide training on shade houses and protective agricultural technology for extension officers, farmers and students. IICA recently provided two shade houses to two secondary schools as part of their program in technology and innovation. The training of young persons, farmers and extension agents in plant growing media, plant nutrition and fertilization, integrated pest management, and crop culture was needed to further develop skills and utilize the shade houses provided. Dr. Heinrich Lieth, a Professor and Extension Specialist for Crop Ecology at the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California Davis, traveled to St. Kitts and Nevis September 4-14, 2012 to provide the training. Lieth's research includes the horticultural production of plants in protected cultivation, the development of sustainable, environmental commercial crop production, and the development of decision support tools for growers based on crop and plant models. Workshops focused on intensive training in soilless culture including irrigation, fertilization and plant nutrition. Lieth also provided information on integrated pest management and reducing damage caused by major pests. Field trips to various screenhouses and shadehouses were conducted on St Kitts which allowed Lieth to discuss, in detail, various elements that are important to protected cultivation. Lieth emphasized "it is important to address all aspects of the production chain from supplying the growers with materials, plants, etc, to marketing the end products." Of the 50 participants attending the training, several were school teachers due to efforts in St. Kitts to bring the concept of protected cultivation to the local schools. According to Lieth, "there is a clear vision in the country for getting the next generation of farmers trained to work with protected cultivation. In fact, local efforts have been successful in setting up shade houses at some of the local schools."

Many farmers in St. Kitts & Nevis are relatively new producers having taken up this occupation after the closure of the sugar industry. Monitoring and recording their production is not something farmers are accustomed to doing and the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Department of Agriculture in St. Kitts are jointly requesting farm management and cost production training for farmers in St. Kitts and Nevis. This need was expressed during a recent review and planning meeting held by the Department of Agriculture, in which farmers made a public appeal for assistance in record keeping.  CARDI and the Ministry of Agriculture requested a specialist to conduct sessions on the cost of production for both livestock and crops, along with training in record keeping, highlighting its importance in the current trading environment. 

First time FAVACA volunteer, Dr. P.J. van Blokland, agreed to provide a farm management and cost production training in St. Kitts and Nevis from July 8-14, 2012.  Dr. van Blockland serves as Professor Emeritus in Finance and Agriculture and is an Adjunct Professor at the Warrington School of Business and Program Director at the University of Florida. Dr. van Blockland has an extensive educational and professional background in Agribusiness and Financial Management, along with a distinguished international career where he has provided approximately 1,000 presentations, workshops, and seminars nationally and internationally. Also, van Blokland has written over 500 publications and provided over 200 broadcasts on the subject of Agribusiness and Financial Management. 

Dr. van Blokland provided training on how to budget for farm expenses and estimate potential both for crops and for livestock.  Participants learned how to create a ledger to keep track of farm income and expense, something that few farmers did before the training, but many farmers will now start to implement after understanding the relative ease to create and maintain while also helping to forecast profit or loss.   The trainings were held on the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis and 55 individuals participated in the training.


The Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College, established in 1988, serves a large cross-section of post secondary and adult students in St. Kitts and Nevis.  While currently a community college, CFBC aspires to expand to university status.  The aim of CFBC is to foster the development of responsible self-sufficient citizens by delivering a range of professional, academic, and vocational courses and programs that will promote graduates to make lifelong positive contributions to their communities.  In order to achieve this goal, CFBC requested FAVACA's assistance to conduct training sessions and workshops to develop faculty and staff skills in research, grant writing, and public outreach, specifically related to sustainable agriculture and climate change adaptation, in order to become an established and environmentally conscious four-year university.  Kevin Meehan, an English professor at the University of Central Florida and successful grant writer, traveled to Basseterre, St. Kitts June 5-19, 2012 to conduct several workshops on grant writing.  Meehan provided an overview of the grant writing process, the elements of a successful grant application and the search for funding opportunities.  He taught about the integrated research processes that include fieldwork, teaching, conferencing and publishing.  Participants learned to identify and communicate with potential funding sources, better understand the priorities and procedures of the funding agencies, and structure their grants for the right funding agency.  Meehan instructed participants on writing project summaries and concepts, preparing credible budgets, navigating agency applications, and collecting support documents and letters of support.  Meehan also talked about indirect costs, matching funds, assessments and evaluation forms, resumes for key personnel, data management plans, and other supporting documents to complete a grant proposal.  The invaluable skills provided to CFBC's faculty and staff in grant writing increases the school's chances of becoming a four-year university and enhancing the quality of education for their students.


The Cotton-Thomas Comprehensive School provides training and education to children with disabilities.  In 2009-2010 the school produced a special education curriculum but teachers are struggling with breaking down the activities into simple tasks and the administration would like to put procedures in place to monitor the curriculum and to make suggestions about teaching special education. To help the school and particularly the teachers better understand how to implement their assigned activities and maintain their progress with the new curriculum, Jill Brookner, Instructional Supervisor for Mentally Handicapped and Physically Impaired Programs, Division of Exceptional Student Education with the Miami-Dade Public Schools and Suzanne Murray of Project VICTORY, an exception student program of the Miami-Dade Public Schools traveled to Basseterre, St. Kitts August 30- September 2, 2011 to work with teachers and administrators at the school.  Brookner and Murray trained teachers and school staff in the area of instructional strategies and curriculum for students with disabilities. The two volunteers focused on reading strategies for general education teachers, differentiated instruction for teachers of students with disabilities, positive behavior supports, and transition curriculum and tools. The lessons taught to the teachers will provide usable tools that teachers can begin implementing on the first day of class and left a variety of materials that the teachers can refer back to for further support. Lastly, the volunteers acknowledged the need to increase the cohesiveness between staff members and provided training on consensus building and ways to work together as a team.


For the past several years, the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has been participating in the CARICOM Regional Transformation Program for Agriculture and has the lead responsibility for the development of the regional sweet potato industry. The program aims to increase the commodity value chain to improve the production, productivity and value added products. Recently farmers in St. Kitts and Nevis have seen a decrease in sweet potato production due to the sweet potato weevil Cylas Formicarius.  In some cases damage is as high as 70-80% and which results in severe revenue loss to the farmers.  Currently, farmers are encouraged to use pheromones to control the pest but losses are still high.  CARDI and the Ministry of Agriculture in St. Kitts and Nevis therefore requested FAVACA support in providing training on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods to control losses from Cylas Formicarius. Dr. Abner Hammond, Professor Emeritus and Extension Specialist at Louisiana State University's Agricultural Center, Department of Entomology, provided training on alleviating the sweet potato weevil in St. Kitts & Nevis from August 6-14, 2011. Hammond provided presentations and hands-on training to introduce methods to develop Best Management Practices for the control of insects and establishing post harvest facilities.  Hammond taught participants how to monitor sweet potato fields with pheromone baited traps and taught simple methods to help in the removal of pests such as residue removal which includes taking out old vines and sweet potatoes left in the field from previous plantings before establishing new crops. Another method taught to participants was to plant the sweet potatoes on mounds which will help to protect the roots and make access more difficult for the weevils.  Lastly, Hammond also taught participants how to use reduced risk insecticides after planting to further reduce the population of the weevils.  


The Ministry of Education in St. Kitts and Nevis has launched the Violence Prevention Project whose aim is to ensure a peaceful atmosphere in schools while maintaining the twin-island federation's performance in education. Five schools are involved in a one-year pilot project - Verchilds, Cayon, and Basseterre High Schools and the Charles E. Mills and Charlestown Secondary Schools, which will include an assessment of the schools' climate, risk behavior and needs. Charles Hurley, Chief of Police for Miami-Dade County Public Schools traveled to St. Kitts and Nevis May 22-28, 2011 to provide training on best practices on youth violence intervention. While in St. Kitts & Nevis, Hurley met with several key officials from the Ministry of Education, officials from the Police High Command, and members from the Ministry of Social Development and Community Services to provide training on best methods in reducing violence in schools and the community. As a result of the training, key policy and legislative changes necessary to the successful implementation of programming were identified. A summary of the Violence in our Schools Project, and recommendations were submitted to the cabinet for consideration which could affect national policy. Recommendations were made to introduce a school resource office model in schools as currently security in schools is poor to non-existent.


Farmers in St. Kitts and Nevis are looking to increase their yields in vegetable production and have been introduced to protected systems as a new technology to help further increase production levels. Vegetable production is highly sought and farmers are able to obtain a good market value throughout the year on their produce however yields are unpredictable and often unable to keep up with demand; therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture of St. Kitts & Nevis along with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) requested assistance from a FAVACA expert to provide training in protected agriculture management to increase vegetable production on the islands. Dr. John Griffis Jr., Associate Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, trained participants on vegetable production and protective agriculture systems from May 6-15, 2011. Griffis provided an update to farmers and extension agents on the variety of protected agriculture construction designs for the tropics and all the participants were able to visit the CARDI shade house currently being constructed or the Ministry of Agriculture in Nevis's newly constructed greenhouse to gain a better perspective of the types of systems available to farmers.  Additionally, Griffis was able to introduce farmers to the possible use of hydroponics for producing high value crops in protected systems whereby making production much more efficient.  Special attention was given to growing crops such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, lettuce, eggplant, strawberries, and field greens and specific recommendations were given for hydroponic production of these crops.  Due to the training and knowledge transferred by Griffis, CARDI's shade house and the Ministry of Agriculture's greenhouse in Nevis will act as a demonstration and training center for farmers to come and learn aspects of protected agriculture on an ongoing basis. 


Farmers in St Kitts and Nevis have been trying to grow onions and white potatoes for a number of years but the quality of the produce is often poor which can be attributed to the post harvest problems (soft rot in white potatoes and improper curing in onions). Other crops with post harvest problems in St. Kitts include sweet potato, tomato, peanut, papaya, banana and cabbage which spurred Pathleen Thomas from CARDI-/St. Kitts to request training in post harvest techniques.  Post harvest training is crucial given the fact that the Department of Agriculture in Nevis opened a food processing unit several years where mango chutney, pepper sauce and other processed foods were made but many farmers are not able to sell their produce to the processing plant due to the poor post harvest quality. 

Dr. Angeleah Browdy, a lecturer at the University of Florida's Food Science and Human Nutrition Department traveled to St. Kitts & Nevis May 15-23, 2010 to lead several seminars on post-harvest handling of fruits and vegetables to local farmers and extension agents from the Ministry of Agriculture and CARDI.  While in St. Kitts and Nevis, she met with Department of Agriculture representatives to discuss deficiencies in their post harvest protocols and she visited several packing houses, storage facilities and assessed the transportation systems to gain a better perspective of the post harvest infrastructure on the island.  The training was conducted over several sessions to help increase the quality of products produced by farmers and the expectations the post harvest facilities require for their consumption.

Integrated Pest Management in St. Kitts & Nevis

Several major pests have caused major crop losses to farmers across the two islands, including cabbage loopers, aphids, whiteflies, and especially the diamondback moth, according to the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) St. Kitts & Nevis as well as the Ministry of Agriculture.  In order to gain a better understanding of the accumulation of pests and potential treatments, Dr. Oscar Liburd from the University of Florida's Department of Entomology and Nematology in Gainesville, Florida, and originally from St. Kitts & Nevis, shipped several varieties of reduced risk pesticides to St. Kitts several months before the training.  The randomized block design experiment collected data on any pests that were seen in large quantities. The pests collected were then pinned on a board or placed in a small vial with alcohol for identification by Liburd. Upon arrival in Basseterre in mid-May, Liburd inspected the test plots and explained to farmers and extension agents which pesticides had the best results. Trainings on pest identification, the harmful effects of those pests, and ways to reduce pests per acre were provided to farmers, agricultural extension agents from CARDI and the Ministry of Agriculture from May 15-23, 2010.


Clarice Cotton, education officer for seven primary schools and the Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education in St. Kitts, requested a follow up workshop on Differentiated Education, the Struggling Reader, Behavior Management and Student Retention. Integrating struggling readers and students with special needs such as physical and learning disabilities into general education classes at both the primary and secondary levels has created serious problems for students, teachers and parents. Other concerns include teachers not having received basic training on techniques and methods for effectively managing a classroom with a widely diverse ability level during their preparatory years. Pamela Crawford, a return volunteer from St. Augustine and first time volunteer Sheribeth Marquis from Tallahassee conducted a training workshop May 31-June 10, 2007. As a result of this training, general education and special education teachers gained skills to address a myriad of student needs while students with mild disabilities benefited from increased access to neighborhood schools. Crawford delivered a training program entitled "Learning Pyramids: Do You Have the Right Blocks?" aimed at the primary school classroom. Best Practices in teaching are the foundational skills essential to build a solid academic classroom and program. Consequently, the teachers and administrators benefited from Crawford's presentations by acquiring knowledge and skills in such areas as Language Development, Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Learning Styles, Essential Soft Skills, Storybook based Learning, Experience Stories, Inexpensive Materials Development & Utilization, and Accommodations for Special Needs students. Marquis provided training to secondary education teachers on Differentiated Education. The participants received instruction related to various teaching strategies which focused on ways to manage the learning environment in order to reach and teach a wide range of students. This included information on setting up a supportive physical and social environment, addressing various student learning styles and use of student groupings. Many participants in Marquis' group were vocational teachers and although they did not teaching academics, they found the information on Differentiated Education very interesting and actively participated in numerous discussions. Crawford is a Speech-Hearing-Language Pathologist and a certified Teacher of the Deaf, who currently provides services at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine. She specializes in the speech and auditory development of deaf students who use cochlear implants, an electronic device which enables many people with severe hearing loss to recognize sounds via a processor that converts speech sounds into electronic signals. Marquis is a graduate from Florida State University with specialization in Correction Special Education Emotional Disturbance and Specific Learning Disabilities. She holds a Florida Teaching Certificate in Special Education, Grades K-12 and presently teaches K-4 Varying Exceptionalities Classes at the Riley Elementary School. She is further credited with being an FSU Instructor of a Master's course that integrated Vocation Education and Special Education.


Due to the increase in construction and development in Nevis, the responsible management of cultural resources is very important. The Nevis Historical and Conservation Society (NHCS) Execuative Director, John Guilbert, called upon former volunteers Kelley Scudder and Michael Temple, both experienced archaeologists and run the firm Cultural Resource Solutions, LLC., to return to the island nation and continue their work in helping promote effective management of the historical, cultural, an natural resources of the island. In addition to training staff and local studetns, Scudder and Temple met with the Government Planning Department to go over the protocol and procedures for cultural resource managment the pair developed in order to help the government of Nevis better protect and preserve their archaeological record. Scudder and Temple also assisted in raising public awareness related to the development of land containing historic sites. The two volunteers visited Nevis May 26 - June 6, 2007 and reached dozens of staff, students, government officials, and developers.


Nicole Slack - Liburd, Health Planner with the HIV/AIDS Coordinating Unit of Nevis, requested FAVACA’s assistance in creating a program geared towards helping teens increase their awareness of HIV/AIDS and STD prevention strategies. Return FAVACA volunteer from the Hippodrome State Theater in Gainesville Jennifer Tyler, was joined by first-time volunteer Jasmin Thompson, also from the Hippodrome, in creating a theatrical production to engage youth in addressing these important issues facing the country. The youth theater training and production took place May 12 - 21, 2007 involving more than 145 high school students, children and adults. Tyler and Thompson trained participants on HIV/AIDS and STD prevention strategies, protective factors against diseases, healthy relationships, decision making, self-esteem, and suppression of peer pressure. Tyler and Robinson are both senior personnel in the Education Department of the Hippodrome State Theater.


Mr. Carl Herbert, director of the National Emergency Management Agency in St. Kitts requested assistance from FAVACA in preparation for the Cricket World Cup Tournament to begin in March 2007 which attracts thousands of fans and teams from around the world. Needing to address safety issues involving large crowds and the always present structural failures, Mr. Herbert reported that first responders needed to hone their professional skills in order to provide more effective and responsive services in time of disasters or emergencies. First responders, supervisors and administrators participated in the training February 11-16, 2007. More than 40 participants, representing the Land, Search and Rescue (LSAR) team, Fire and Rescue Services, Police Force, Defense Force, Emergency Medical Services and a contingent of community volunteers, received training which included topics such as Rope Rescue, Incident Management, Planning, Command and Coordination, Emergency Vertical/Raker Building Shoring. The FAVACA training team was made up of four first time volunteers that included Lt. Michael Livingston from the St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue Services, Mr. Pete Hill, a paramedic, technical and medical rescue specialist, also from St. Petersburg and Captain Jack Swerdloff and Mr. Shane Anderson, both professionals from the Miami Fire and Rescue Services.

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