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Farmers renew call for “action” on water woes [Photoslide Included]

- Say Farmers' Week going down, make recommendations
VI Fresh Produce, a local family who produces fresh produce for the local market at Farmers Week 2012. Photo: VINO
This Farmer shows off one of his prized bunch of bananas. Photo: Andre Dawson
This Farmer shows off one of his prized bunch of bananas. Photo: Andre Dawson
PARAQUITA BAY, Tortola, VI – While the poor support for Farmers’ Week 2012 was acknowledged by many, participating farmers themselves have expressed concern while calling for “action” not just words to address the main issue affecting them from propelling forward in the industry - water.

Yesterday Sunday February 12, 2012, the final day of the Farmers’ Week activity at Paraquita Bay concluded, with exhibitions on display, produce on sale, cultural music and performances and fun for the kids.

While there were donkey and pony rides for children offered by the Humane Society, many expressed dismay that there were no traditional donkey races which was a major attraction every year.

The farmers in attendance though, were mainly concerned about the long standing water woes that has been plaguing the industry and hopes this time it will be addressed in short order.

Farmer Dwight Pickering was among several farmers who re-emphasised the farmers’ biggest problem and wants to see it remedied.

“Our biggest problem is water and we need some serious help. Right now we paying the same water rates just like regular customers and its extremely high for us,” he told Virgin Islands News Online.

Pickering is of the view that once that issue is addressed, he foresees an increase in production of crops and stated that the “supermarkets stand ready to take our produce” and said even the charter yacht industry is seeking out the local produce.

Regarding the actual turnout for Farmers' Week, the farmer said it has been down this year, adding “I think we are feeling the crunch of the economic and a lot of farmers getting discouraged because they are not getting the right support for their efforts”.

Another farmer Clifton Stoutt too believes that the event is “going down” and plans to nevertheless continue his participation with hopes that something can be done to improve it.

Meanwhile, former Chief Conservation and Fisheries Officer and political independent candidate Bertrand Lettsome said as a farmer, it has been a good year for him and he finds more people are becoming health conscious and sourcing local produce.

However, Lettsome said his main problem and factor limiting his potential to expand as a farmer is water. He said Government should not just “talk” but seek to take action to address the issue which is a long standing concern for farmers.

He said they should also not only strive to assist farmers to get water but put measures in place for a constant water supply.

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As for the Farmers' Week events at Paraquita Bay, his recommendation would be to put back the event to be held on Saturday and Sunday when more persons used to readily turn out in numbers to attend.

Farmer for over 40 years, Mariette Smith told Virgin Islands News Online that she will continue to participate in Farmers' Week once there is one every year as it is an event for farmers to showcase their produce but strongly recommends that something be done to improve the event, which she too believes is going “under”.

“This is the worst I have ever seen,” the farmer candidly stated, noting of the participation by farmers, the events held on the day and the crowd in attendance.

A new family company, VI Fresh Produce, said this is their first time selling products at Farmers' Week and sees the event as one to promote their produce.

The small local farming business which is located in Diamond Estate said Government does not give the needed assistance to local farmers and when the produce are sold at a higher price, customers complain.

However, they implore customers that the locally grown produce are healthy and will last longer compare to the imported produce.

Meanwhile, speaking at the opening ceremony of Farmers Week on Friday February 10, 2012 Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith had said his Government is committed to solving farmers’ water woes.

2 Responses to “Farmers renew call for “action” on water woes [Photoslide Included]”

  • kill it dead (13/02/2012, 10:53) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Agriculture under the NDP is dead let’s face it!!! This will be the party who has been remembered for killing this sector.
  • notes (14/02/2012, 01:19) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Come on none of the government over the year were ever serious about argulture.


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