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Farmers discouraged ahead of Farmers’ Week 2013

- Farmers continue to claim Farmers’ Week 2013 is ‘vendors’ exhibition’; express feelings of neglect with recent water woes
Moviene Fahie attends to some tomato plants on her farm at Paraquita Bay. Photo:VINO
Pakchoy plants on a farm at Paraquita Bay. Photo:VINO
Pakchoy plants on a farm at Paraquita Bay. Photo:VINO
Booths set up in preparation for the start of Farmers' Week 2013. Photo:VINO
Booths set up in preparation for the start of Farmers' Week 2013. Photo:VINO
A withered plant seen on a farm, which reportedly suffered as a result of the recent water woes experienced by farmers. Photo:VINO
A withered plant seen on a farm, which reportedly suffered as a result of the recent water woes experienced by farmers. Photo:VINO
PARAQUITA BAY, Tortola, VI – While many might be eagerly anticipating the upcoming annual Farmers’ Week, some farmers have asserted that they may not even be inclined to participate and have described the event as a ‘vendors’ exhibition’.

Farmers’ Week 2013 is scheduled to run from February 1-8, 2013 and is billed under the theme: “Sustain Ourselves and Secure Our Future by Training Youth in Agriculture”.

Farmer, Ms Moviene Fahie, explained that she had stopped participating in Farmers’ Week for several years now. “We don’t have water to supply our plots… we spend a lot of money and we don’t have proper management,” Ms Fahie disclosed. “We need proper management in the agriculture field… once you get the right people in agriculture, we’ll do a lot better,” she continued.

“The people in authority need to listen to the farmers who are serious about agriculture,” Ms Fahie suggested. She called for farmers to be more serious about issues concerning them and to be more unified among themselves. Ms Fahie also felt that there were few farmers that were serious about what they were doing, “this place [at Paraquita Bay] is a disgrace, there aren’t any serious farmers here.”

“The people who are serious are not getting any help,” she said, “I would like to see agriculture come back… how it used to be in the 60’s.”

She claimed that the Virgin Islands was in a crisis where farming was concerned and felt that there was not enough food to supply the Territory at the moment. Ms Fahie wondered aloud what would happen if food was to stop coming in from places such as Puerto Rico. “The supermarkets look like they’re rejected,” she said, “we have more people in this country than the food we have, it’s a serious matter.”

One farmer, who had been participating in the event for over a decade, felt the idea of Farmers’ Week was a good one but authorities needed to ensure that farmers were able to source water for their crops. “As long as I have water, I’m good,” he said before adding that he suffered roughly $5000 worth of losses due to the prolonged absence of water recently experienced by farmers.

Another farmer, who expressed his gratitude for the free land offered by government, agreed that water was a serious constraint to production for farmers over the past season. “I cannot see myself cutting off the hand that feeds me, the government gave us this plot, we don’t pay [any] money for it and at the end of the day whatever we make is ours… [regardless of] what they choose to do, it’s their land,” he reasoned.

He felt it would be bad for farmers if they appeared to be boycotting Farmers’ Week 2013, especially given the circumstances whereby farmers were on the “government’s eyebrow”. “You have to use your common sense,” he said.

“Because of [the lack of water] we didn’t get [anything],” he continued, “our crop for exhibition is 90 days… if you don’t have that then you cannot enter the exhibition.” “We didn’t have water for three months,” he said.

Farmers explained that the recently repaired well located in the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) compound could not service all the farmers in the Paraquita Bay area and some farmers continued to face hardship as a result of the diminished access to water.

Both farmers indicated that they are likely to participate in this year’s event but may only be able to offer one each of several crops that they would have ordinarily been able to do. The farmers also related that their previous crops had been so bountiful that they had been able to hire several persons to assist with their booths at previous Farmers’ Week exhibits. “All I have to go in the exhibition, for vegetables, is a few pak choi…” one of the farmers disclosed. Another farmer said he was harvesting cucumbers for the upcoming exhibit.

A familiar claim that came from most of the farmers this news site spoke with was that vendors would benefit more from the upcoming exhibit than actual farmers themselves.

The farmers felt discouraged by the level of government input but were determined to press on because of their love for farming and their need to feed their families. “It’s only because we love farming we’re doing farming [at Paraquita Bay],” one farmer said, “if farming wasn't a part of us [then] we wouldn't have been farming”.

Farmers felt that authorities displayed a high level of disinterest in relation to farmers in the Territory and related that this was evidenced by the fact that no formal meeting had reportedly since been held with farmers since the current administration had taken office.

Another farmer related that suggestions were made by some farmers that Farmers’ Week be postponed this year due to the problems experienced by farmers but this suggestion was allegedly quickly shot down for unknown reasons. The question was asked whether this was not the reasonable thing to do as a person in authority. “What he says goes,” the farmer said in reference to an official in charge, “he says he’s not changing the date[s].”

“The interest is not there from the government… they’re more focused on tourism,” the farmer said while relating that in the past the Virgin Islands was able to supply produce to St Thomas but this was not the case at the moment.

One farmer from Virgin Gorda, Mr Lester Maduro, said he was looking forward to Farmers’ Week 2013 adding that there would be about seven farmers participating in this year’s event from the island.

16 Responses to “Farmers discouraged ahead of Farmers’ Week 2013 ”

  • horn (30/01/2013, 08:16) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    kedric need to finish those darn greenhouses for that airport!!!..
  • school children (30/01/2013, 09:02) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    "we want the greenhouses"
  • farmer brown (30/01/2013, 09:15) Like (3) Dislike (14) Reply
    Ms. Fahie you are the only real farmer left
  • move (30/01/2013, 09:30) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Mevaine, your fight may be principled indeed but this is a fight that's unlikely you will ever win
  • home boy (30/01/2013, 10:49) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    i aint going up there unless those greenhouses finish
  • A joke (30/01/2013, 10:53) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Agriculture Fair in the BVI is a joke..They need to take a page out of St. Croix Fair....Amazing and awesome....
  • vip (30/01/2013, 13:37) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    since ndp took over, we had 5 horse races in 13 months....thats a bad sign
  • farmer frett (30/01/2013, 19:40) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I need water at my farm right now, have not had any for about a week now. They have my face on tv and i have to begging for water.
    Take my face off.
  • rip (30/01/2013, 21:59) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    the n.d.p goverment is just a waste of time they are just fooling the people of the b.v.i over and over all the time.The Agriculture is really a joke for true i second that.............................
  • last week (30/01/2013, 23:55) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Despite the profound chatter to the contrary, farming in the bvi is dead
  • obey (31/01/2013, 09:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Braithwaite dont listen, he is going to feel
  • Slender (01/02/2013, 02:19) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Why there seems to be this general expectation of Government to provide handouts to residents in this territory? The land admitted one farmer was leased to them at no cost. The water I'm assuming is provided free as well. If for what ever reason the water supply to their farms are interrupted shouldn't the farmer, if they are really serious about farming as they are claiming, maintain a holding tank on their lots to water their crops when the main water supply unavailable. letting their crops wither away should not be attributed to any fault of the Agriculture Department and by extension the Government. There seems to be personnel issues between some of these farmers and the Agriculture Department because they are not getting their way.
    Bringing Mr. Braithwaite's credibility to question... shame,.shame.

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