Statia implements sustainable agriculture strategy
The Public Entity of St. Eustatius is currently implementing a long term strategy for sustainable agriculture.
One of the projects supporting this strategy is the introduction of an integrated approach for the removal of loose roaming livestock in combination with the development of sustainable livestock farming. An initial grace period of 6 weeks started Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 during which farmers and animal owners are granted the opportunity to catch and deliver the animals to the slaughter house in large quantities.
The farmers can decide during the grace period if they want to continue with animal husbandry and how many animals they want to rear. It also enables the stakeholders to make provisions to house the kept animals behind closed fences and to initiate preparation for sustainable animal husbandry. This is with the support and guidance of the Directorate of Economy, Nature and Infrastructure (ENI) of the Public Entity. During the initial grace period special incentives for farmers and animal owners apply. These include reduced fees for fencing materials, financial compensation equivalent to the slaughter fees, increased meat prices when selling and access to other subsidized materials.
Close to the end of the grace period an evaluation will be done to check the success of the introduced measures. An extension of the grace period will be directly related to this evaluation. After the grace period and a possible extension of the grace period, the first phase will commence. This entails the removal of loose roaming animals in the urban area and Boven National Park Statia. In the second phase other parts of the island will be subject to the same approach. The project of removing animals is financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Public Entity of St. Eustatius.
Loose roaming livestock is an increasing problem in St. Eustatius. Recent research indicates that from 2013 the number of goats and sheep has increased from approximately 3700 to currently approximately 12.000. The high number of loose roaming animals is causing major damage through erosion leading to sediment run off and subsequent coral damage and a high negative impact for marine and terrestrial biodiversity on the island which effects the tourism and economic development. This is also an obstacle to agriculture initiatives. In addition, the roaming animals cause safety issues due to vehicular accidents and dogs attacking and sometimes slaughtering the animals. Therefore, it is necessary to start removing the loose roaming animals and simultaneously support the animal keepers/farmers to develop and implement a sustainable way of livestock farming which g creates opportunities for economic development and people development.
With the project to remove loose roaming animals, the Public Entity acts on the General Local Ordinance (Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening (APV) 2018. This article (chapter 3, paragraph 3) endorses that free roaming livestock is prohibited. This means that it is not allowed to let livestock unattended on or along public roads and letting livestock run free on another person’s’ property without their permission. Livestock roaming free on domain land is also prohibited.
During the preparation process, the Public Entity, St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA), the animal owners and farmers have worked closely together in a very constructive and positive way. In total three stakeholder meetings were held to inform and involve the animal owners. During the third meeting early October stakeholders agreed on the way forward.
Animal husbandry is part of the culture of Statia and for many Statians the free roaming animals provide an easier way to obtain meat. However, the number of free roaming animals have outgrown the islands carrying capacity and is contributing to several natural and social damages and interferences. A vision and strategy was needed. The vision of the Public Entity of St. Eustatius for sustainable agriculture is to promote food security, adequate food quality and food safety, to create economic opportunities by people empowerment, to foster a healthy natural environment and to increase self-sufficiency by developing human capacity and local resources. The execution of the project of roaming animals endorses this vision.