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Hon. O'Neal willing to make land available for VG farmers!

- Farmers encouraged to revive local agriculture industry
Virgin Gorda resident Charles Bobb and some of the cassava he grows in his back yard at the Farmer's Week exhibition on the sister island on February 7, 2013. Photo: VINO
Territorial At-Large Representative Hon. Archibald C. Christian and Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith (left) are fascinated by the freshly grown tomatoes grown by the Legair family. Photo: VINO
Territorial At-Large Representative Hon. Archibald C. Christian and Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith (left) are fascinated by the freshly grown tomatoes grown by the Legair family. Photo: VINO
School children all excited about the piglets at the VG Farmers' Week exhibition. Photo: VINO
School children all excited about the piglets at the VG Farmers' Week exhibition. Photo: VINO
6-year-old Little Rainbow School student Taegan Bishop and her teacher Mrs Rushell Jacobs showing off her winning piece of art. Photo: VINO
6-year-old Little Rainbow School student Taegan Bishop and her teacher Mrs Rushell Jacobs showing off her winning piece of art. Photo: VINO
Judges assessing the Virgin Gorda grown flower plants at the Farmers' Week exhibition on February 7, 2013. Photo: VINO
Judges assessing the Virgin Gorda grown flower plants at the Farmers' Week exhibition on February 7, 2013. Photo: VINO
Students of St. Mary's Primary singing in support of farming in Virgin Gorda. Photo: VINO
Students of St. Mary's Primary singing in support of farming in Virgin Gorda. Photo: VINO
Students of the H. Robinson O'Neal Memorial Primary School doing a dramatic piece about how rewarding farming can be and why it should be reintroduced in schools. Photo: VINO
Students of the H. Robinson O'Neal Memorial Primary School doing a dramatic piece about how rewarding farming can be and why it should be reintroduced in schools. Photo: VINO
Mr Bovil P. Fergusson and some of his handicraft, baskets and place mats made of pwin wind aka Coppra. Photo: VINO
Mr Bovil P. Fergusson and some of his handicraft, baskets and place mats made of pwin wind aka Coppra. Photo: VINO
SPANISH TOWN, Virgin Gorda, VI - It was not a hidden fact that the agriculture industry in the Virgin Islands has been brought to its knees following the swing from that focus to tourism and financial services. This was admitted by several speakers at the Virgin Gorda leg of Farmers' Week observances in the Virgin Islands on February 7, 2013.

Though a fact, Government leaders hastened to encourage farmers to do their best to revive the industry as it is felt that the Virgin Islands can grow sufficient food for home and even for export.

Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith spoke of his personal experience in farming this year. "I myself am a back yard farmer but this year my crop was very down, I didn't get the regular peas that I am accustomed to getting," and hastened to highlight that in the past the Virgin Islands was the bread basket of agriculture produce for St. Thomas but today it is importing more food and growing very little. 

He said Government has been looking at ways of diversfying the economy because of a number of reasons including that of the other sides of tourism and financial services. The Government, he added, is carefully looking at several areas to deal with this, while looking for new areas of enterprises for the development of employment opportunities and other important aspects that would contribute to economic growth.  

"More and more we recognise that agriculture can play a more significant part in the economy of the Virgin Island and I think in many ways Virgin Gorda is leading the way in this regard," Hon. Smith remarked.

He noted and applauded the private local enterprises who have been supporting the local farmers by providing market. Those named were Bobby's, Little Dix Bay, Pussers, Road Town Wholesale, Peter Island and a number of smaller entities. 

To add his foot into aiding in the reviving the agriculture sector, Representative of the Ninth District and Leader of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Hon. Ralph T. O'Neal OBE opened an invitation to anyone wishing small plots of land for farming purpose. "I am not looking for any money but I want to see crops being grown and that can inspire the youths," Hon. O'Neal said.

He said that with farming, its not the hard work but the good reward when the instructions are followed and the use of modern technology to farming, "... And this is what is needed."

According to Hon. O'Neal, there is nothing that can be done to stop the rising cost for food but what can be done is persons can plant their own food and with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture.

In keeping with the theme for this year, Hon. O'Neal challenged the Ministry of education to re-introduce gardening back into the school system, saying it is something worth considering.

Further, he stated that there are lots of unused lands that are available for back yard gardening and even bigger cultivation. 
  
Deputy Chief Agriculture Officer Arona Fahie - Forbes highlighted weaknesses and threats constituting the development agenda that must be addressed. She stated that agriculture in the Virgin Islands has numerous weaknesses, including low productivity, poor coordination and limited capacity, underdeveloped supporting facilities, erosion of the natural resource base, inappropriate technology, dependency on rain fed agriculture, impediments to food market access and low public expenditure levels.

"In order to provide a strategic direction to the agricultural sector, sustain ourselves and secure the future, Fahie- Forbes said that there are six things that should be promoted: The adoption of the draft Agriculture policy; The development of an Agricultural Sector Development Programme; Develop market institutions; Demonstrate the profit making potential of non-traditional value propositions; And reforming existing regulatory structures.

The Virgin Gorda day, in the week long observances of Farmers' Week 2013, saw the widest arrangement of farm products and produces, poultry and livestock and handicraft. 

8 Responses to “Hon. O'Neal willing to make land available for VG farmers!”

  • virgin gorda (08/02/2013, 08:52) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    When he was Premier how come he aint f=do that…struppssss
  • Ning (08/02/2013, 08:58) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    40yrs too late i say.
  • talk girl talk (08/02/2013, 09:43) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    ...I congratulate VG farmers on a job well done...
  • shaw (08/02/2013, 11:25) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    where can I get some of those homegrown tomatoes and are they available on Tortola. Same with those baskets. are they represented in Crafts Alive or other crafts store? These are the things I would be interested in.
  • talk dat (12/02/2013, 09:00) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Strange the NDP are so quiet about this year's Exhibition...

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