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‘We don’t have to produce everything’ – Natalio D. Wheatley

- said people must shun the idea of ‘all or nothing’ in agriculture production & do what their resources will allow them to
The top brass of the People'e Empowerment Party (PEP) continues to plug agriculture as an important pillar in the VI economy and dealt with it extensively on their latest talk show. Above are President of PEP Natalio D. Wheatley (left) and its Chairman Honourable J. Alvin Christopher (R2). Photo: VINO/File
People's Empowerment Party (PEP) leader Hon J. Alvin Christopher (R2) doesn't think the Greenhouses at Paraquita Bay can meet the agricultural demands of the territory. Photo: VINO/File
People's Empowerment Party (PEP) leader Hon J. Alvin Christopher (R2) doesn't think the Greenhouses at Paraquita Bay can meet the agricultural demands of the territory. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – The People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) continues to make agriculture one of its biggest campaign issues and its President Natalio D. Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru said people must move away from thinking that if they cannot produce all their food then it does not make sense producing any of it.

He was speaking while a panelist on his party’s PEP Radio, a once a month radio talk show, which was aired on Monday evening March 23, 2015 on ZBVI 780 AM.

“I think that we have to move away from this idea that if we don’t do everything we can’t do anything; if we’re not producing all our food we can’t produce any of it,” he said.

He made the point that there is land enough for agriculture and that short term leases with land owners could be worked out.

“People talk about availability of land but there are a lot of land that can be available for farming right now if we establish [a programme of short term leases]. We should just go as far as the available resources can take us as opposed to setting our sights so high that we become discouraged if we can’t meet those [goals]. Let’s see what is available and then let’s see what we could do and then put our heel to the plough so to speak,” said Wheatley.

He said if land is made available for persons to farm then it might be important to have a mechanism to measure the progress being made on the land. “For instance you don’t want to grant somebody some land and the land is there lying dormant and you don’t see the type of production that you need to see and that person is just holding up that land when maybe somebody else could make better use of the land,” said Wheatley.

'Greenhouses not enough'

Speaking on the issue, Chairman of the PEP Honourable J. Alvin Christopher (R2) said, “If we can’t produce 100 percent it doesn’t mean we cannot produce 25 percent of our food. The greenhouses that we have they could only produce certain types of crops and if they are well utilised and that technology functions the way it should function, the crops that those greenhouse can produce, I don’t think that our population can consume [all of them].” 

Wheatley added that there are people who, from a philosophical standpoint, only want to consume locally grown foods since there will be some amount of greenhouse emissions to bring imported foods into the territory. He said such persons seek to buy locally produced foods.

Recently Government has been criticised for their handling of the agriculture sector, which persons feel is on the decline as evidenced by the poor participation in this year’s Farmer’s Week activities and the scant regard paid to local farmers whose livelihoods remain threatened due to the proliferation of imported produce.

12 Responses to “‘We don’t have to produce everything’ – Natalio D. Wheatley”

  • Yes (27/03/2015, 08:26) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    I cant believe i am hearing all this from a man who helped kill agriculture? and now he brought a young pall bearer to talk frought, wow!
  • win win (27/03/2015, 09:35) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
    Sounds like a win win for everyone. Good that interest is being taken in the local farmers and their livelihood. NDP through their willful evil victimization seem to forgot that every one has to eat.
  • kk (27/03/2015, 09:54) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Forming is like a Cat 9 life, 8 already dead, its on its last life.--Here is my suggestion---Give the 3 or 4 people who have interest and passion to form and doing it all the support they need-- Green houses--Land--Water--financial subsidy--a branded vehicle to move their produce. this should increase production 10 fold and reduce their prices to a competitive level with the imports....What does govt get back you may asked?.. A certain quantity of produce must be given to the college and hospital at none profit cost.---That will cut the College and hospital food bill down, down. Sowande focus on the youths, that`s your only chance for 2019, by that time you should have a competitive party.

  • cays (27/03/2015, 10:48) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The done deal man say he cares about fishing
  • Schups (27/03/2015, 11:20) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Sowande, you need to understand economics and business before making careless statements. If a farmer is growing food to feed his family and friends that's one thing, but if a farmer makes an investment and/or wants Government to make an investment, it has to make business sense. Agriculture business is based on volume so therefore, if someone wants to make that a business they need to be able to sell a certain amount of produce to make it worth while. In my view, this is the issue most farmers have i.e., the cost of production is killing them because they cannot produce the volume that is required to turn a profit. It is not necessarily all or nothing but depending on what you're into, it makes no economical sense if you cannot turnover a certain volume. Further, many local farmers try to price themselves into a profit and what happens is that people won't buy their stuff because it is too expensive. So while I understand what Sowande is saying to an extent, there's a point when it comes to volume. We need to approach things realistically and stop with the emotional BS. It doesn't matter whether I'm local or not, the reality does not change on that basis. Anyone trying to get into any business needs to do their homework before venturing into it. There's no rule that says a local farmer must make big bucks. There are rules that must be followed and realities to consider before getting involved. If it is costing you $1,000.00 a week to grow tomatoes and when you sell your stock you are making $600.00 at best, then you need to reconsider what you are doing. That is not rocket science!
    • voter (27/03/2015, 17:28) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
      I agree that guy is one armchair economist that I will never vote for. Can't even decide what his name actually is
  • @Schups (27/03/2015, 12:55) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    I support your position 101%. This is not an issue of economics for Sowande. I think that he is saying that government will foot all the costs so that farmers can make a profit. It is high time that we wake up and accept the fact that the land belongs to the people and government can't tell folks whether to farm or build on their properties. Because of the scarcity of land and the need for more housing, the potential for farming is already dealt a blow. Can one farm without a steady supply of water? What Sowande needs to encourage is back-yard gardens and mini hydroponics at home where folks can produce their seasonings and some vegetables for personal consumption. Farming as an economic venture to provide food and employment is not going to happen in the BVI, and Sowande and PEP CANNOT make it happen.
  • 1 seat (27/03/2015, 13:26) Like (0) Dislike (4) Reply
    Pep dead on arrival deman

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