SABA:--- The Saba Executive Council recently approved a pilot to support local animal husbandry and fisheries. The six-month pilot involves a number of reimbursements for the high costs that livestock owners and commercial fishermen have and aims to contribute to local food production.
As part of this project, which is financed by the Public Entity Saba, livestock owners can apply to get shipping costs and the ABB tax reimbursed for the import of feed and hay, as well as the import of livestock and chickens. Livestock owners already receive assistance with water when needed.
For both livestock owners and commercial fishermen can have the brokerage fees applied when importing goods. Commercial fishermen can also apply for a reimbursement of shipping fees and ABB tax for fishing supplies and bait. A reimbursement form has been developed that livestock owners and commercial fishermen can fill out and submit.
Increasingly high costs
The pilot aims to assist livestock owners and commercial fishermen with the increasingly high costs. The development of animal husbandry and fisheries is stunted by the high costs of imported animal food, livestock, bait and equipment. On average, livestock owners import approximately 500 bags of various types of livestock feed and 140 bales per month, which are palletized and brought to the island by cargo boat from St. Maarten and Puerto Rico.
Fishermen face different challenges. The price of diesel has increased substantially while the price of bait has increased by over 100% in the past few years. Fishermen depend on retailers on St. Maarten where bait is not always available. The pilot will address some of the challenges of fishermen and livestock owners.
Because of these challenges, the availability of locally produced meat, eggs, and fish, can be often scarce. Because of these challenges, less people are getting involved in animal husbandry, while some active farmers are downsizing because of the high costs. Livestock owners struggle to maintain their small farms.
Animal husbandry on Saba is carried out on a small scale through several private initiatives. Livestock includes poultry, goats, sheep, pigs and some cattle. Though small, these farms are an important contribution to local food production in the form of meat and eggs. The manure is used by the Hell’s Gate Farm, the Saba Reach Garden and backyard farmers as fertilizer.
Fisheries is done more on a commercial scale but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, steep inflation on the prices for fuel, bait and equipment, brings the success of this industry under strain.
Local food production
As part of the Saba Nature and Environment Plan of Action, the Public Entity Saba aims to support animal husbandry/livestock and fisheries across the board to increase local food production. The main goal of this pilot project is to increase local food production and availability by supporting animal husbandry/livestock owners and fishermen. The subgoals include the promoting of responsible animal husbandry, improving animal husbandry practices and animal welfare standards, encouraging the start-up of more livestock business initiatives and the facilitating of fishermen.
The Public Entity Saba has also prepared a reforestation project. This project aims to boost the recovery process of the island’s vegetation. The goal is to plant 5,000 trees, including a substantial number of fruit trees, over a period of 3 years. The fruit trees will contribute to local food production.
Furthermore, a pilot project will soon be launched aimed at supporting the community to become more active in backyard farming and to help persons engaged in backyard farming overcome the challenges that they have been facing, like having crops damaged by goats, iguanas and chickens, or a lack of seeds/saplings, water, fertilizers, water tanks, tools and pesticides.