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‘We even importing tamarind now!’– Hon Natalio D. Wheatley

- said VI has to urgently diversify economy
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley aka ‘Sowande Uhuru’, centre, has said it is imperative to have commercial agriculture and fishing sectors in order to diversify the economy of the Virgin Islands due to the eminent negative impacts of Brexit, including on the financial services sector. At right is Acting Director of Agriculture, Theodore James. Photo: Facebook
The agriculture and fisheries stakeholders meeting on Thursday August 15, 2019 at the Breezeway of the Central Administration Complex on Wickham’s Cay I, Tortola, was well attended. Photo: Facebook
The agriculture and fisheries stakeholders meeting on Thursday August 15, 2019 at the Breezeway of the Central Administration Complex on Wickham’s Cay I, Tortola, was well attended. Photo: Facebook
A member of the audience gives his feedback. Photo: Franklyn Skerritt/GIS)
A member of the audience gives his feedback. Photo: Franklyn Skerritt/GIS)
WICKHAM’S CAY I, Tortola, VI- Minister responsible for Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley aka 'Sowande Uhuru’ (R7) has said it is imperative to have commercial agriculture and fishing sectors in order to diversify the economy of the Virgin Islands due to the eminent negative impacts of Brexit on the territory, including on the financial services sector.

Hon Wheatley met with a number of stakeholders on Thursday August 15, 2019 at the Breezeway of Central Administration Complex where he shared his vision and heard the thoughts and wishes of those present on the subject matter: “Commercial Fishing, Commercial Agriculture.”

VI importing 90% of food

The main focus, according to Hon Wheatley, is to look at ways to cut back on the quantity of fish and agricultural products imported into the territory.

“We importing upwards a 90% of everything that we eat, we have to cut back on the imports, that provide business opportunities, that provide employment which we are badly in need of and that provides health benefits, exercise, good quality food keeping you out of the doctors’ office with all of these chemicals and hormones in the food.”

While the Minister said it’s his intention to have frequent direct meetings with farmers and fishermen, Thursday’s meeting was basically to introduce himself and his team to the group and to share a broad aspect of his vision for the sectors.

Agriculture and fishery were thrown in the background after the territory ventured into financial services and tourism.

Even tamarind being imported

And while showering praises on those who have kept agriculture and fishing alive, Honourable Wheatley was concerned that the territory has begun to import even items that are in abundance in the territory.

“But we are nowhere near where we need to be. I go to the supermarket and see them selling tamarind, imported tamarind, and when you outside right there by Jimmy Young you see a bunch of tamarind on the ground. You walking on them on the ground and when you go into the store you see them selling imported tamarind.”

Hon Wheatley remarked that he never thought he would see the day when imported tamarind was being sold in the territory.

“It means that we have fallen far from where we need to be …. We have fallen far,” stressed Hon Wheatley.

The Minister said getting the sectors to the place he envisions them, is a matter of urgency, “Financial Services is under great attack, you will hear more on that because there are things coming down the pipe as we speak.”

He alluded to the fact that the United Kingdom will be coming again with an attack on the final services industry through its parliament “and it is not a certainty that we will be able to escape as we did before when it (legislation) was on the table.”

He also spoke of the current issue of the European Union threatening to blacklist the territory unless the over 400,000 companies registered here adhere to requirements of the Economic Substance law.

Challenges facing farmers

Getting the vision into action means dealing with the challenges faced by those who seek to keep the agriculture industry alive, “The farmers have been speaking about water for a long time,” noted Hon Wheatley as he said he was given the assurance that the Water and Sewerage Department is working on improving supply at the Paraquita Bay station.

He said this would be an immediate solution although there are persons who have expressed fears about the use of desalinated water for planting. “So part of what we want to do is to create some catchment areas for rain water as well.”

Hon Wheatley said there is the notion that solving the water problem is THE answer but he begged to differ as he said the issue of land use goes hand in parcel. “We are going to have to look at land use and we are going to have to look at persons who have crown land.”

Also at the meeting were Premier and Minister and Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) and Acting Director of Agriculture, Theodore James.

3 Responses to “‘We even importing tamarind now!’– Hon Natalio D. Wheatley”

  • ... (19/08/2019, 11:31) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    it will take a miracle to revise farming
  • Strupes (19/08/2019, 12:35) Like (5) Dislike (10) Reply
    stop wasting your time on agriculture the old way will not work
  • Hmmmmm (19/08/2019, 18:06) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Simple Solution,
    Give the Farmers free Well Water, open back up the wells and not the salt water from the plant. Give them the land to farm and raise live stock. buy slips from other countries and use some new techniques like what the guys at AgriParadise VG is doing.


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