BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 2ND 2012 (CUOPM) – Austria’s Non-Resident Ambassador to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, His Excellency Thomas Schuller is to visit the twin-island Federation this week.
The pilot project in organic farming initiative is experimental and unique on the island and has three objectives. Firstly to plant medicinal and aromatic plants as alternative crops in monkey infested agricultural area of Saddlers to create income for farmers, secondly to work with the youths to transmit traditional plant knowledge about and offer hands-on agricultural training together with international volunteers and advisors and link international university advisors and link international university cooperation for joint research on the farm. The project which started in May this year, involves the reign Ministry of Austria, The Archdiocese of Vienna, Austria, Austrian Cooperation Agency, “Horizont3000”; Vienna University, Austria; Soyar (Save our Youth at Risk-Association); U.S. Peace Corps; University of the West Indies and the Ministry of Education, St. Kitts and Nevis.
The project is currently in the first phase and different medicinal and aromatic plants have been planted on a quarter acre of the farm.
“We are observing monkey behavior towards these new crops before planting at a larger scale in order to service international markets. Drought in June has slowed process of planting,” said Dr. Elisabeth Karamat, who published her autobiographic novel “Honigmann” (Honey Man), in German.
Volunteers from Austria and Germany are participating in the pilot project by bringing their skills, such as donkey training for farm and speech therapy for special needs children.
The University of Vienna, Austria has confirmed its scientific cooperation with “Saddlers Herbal Project” and will send students from Austria to St. Kitts to write their master’s thesis on the project. A publication in English and German is planned.
The farm is a drug and alcohol free zone and international volunteers will bring in their skills to work with youth in improving their personal skills in a playful way.
The project also tackles the growing risk for plant diversity in the Caribbean that is considered by Conservation International as a “hot spot”.
Elisabeth Karamat is an Austrian former career diplomat with a PhD in law. She took a leave from her foreign ministry in 2009 to come to St. Kitts and work in agriculture with the youth and has established contacts abroad and monitors procedures, project progress and budget.