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Local food is better than ‘garbage’ from USA- VG Resident

- Farmers call for production incentives from Gov’t
Many small farmers in the Territory depend on the hotels and supermarkets to purchase their produce; however, the demands have not been enough to sustain large scale farming. Photo: VINO/File
A resident of Virgin Gorda makes his contribution to the community meeting held on January 25, 2017 at the Catholic Community Centre at Virgin Gorda. Photo: Facebook
A resident of Virgin Gorda makes his contribution to the community meeting held on January 25, 2017 at the Catholic Community Centre at Virgin Gorda. Photo: Facebook
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) said if there were more persons passionate about farming, the territory would do better in that field. Photo: VINO/File
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) said if there were more persons passionate about farming, the territory would do better in that field. Photo: VINO/File
VALLEY, Virgin Gorda, VI- A contributor to the dialogue between the National Democratic Party (NDP) government and the people of the territory via a series of on-going community meetings has sounded the call for government to do more for local farmers and farming in the territory amidst the constant cries of rising prices for imported produce.

At the community meeting held on January 25, 2017 at the Catholic Community Centre at Virgin Gorda, one resident said the United States of America (USA) Government heavily subsidises farming in their country, hence their ability to produce on a wide scale and this is something the government needs to be considering.

Cheap garbage food from America

“Our farmers are trying their best to put food on our table here locally and the local food is better than those garbage we are getting from America,” he said to a loud round of applause.

“I would like, similar to what is being done in America, the government here to give the farmers production incentives. Every pound of produce that they produce here they should give them an incentive to augment their cost of production.” This he said should be incorporated into the government’s five year recovery and development plan for the territory, which is under construct following the hurricanes of 2017.

“For instance we have cucumber that grows here and they are better than those from America, they will last longer…. But because the supermarkets are getting cheap garbage stuff from America they keep purchasing them. When the farmers ask for the marketing of their produce we are told we have ones from America.”

“What will the people in the BVI do,” he questioned, “We can’t go to America and look for a job so those who are producing their produce here the government must put some sort of safeguard in order for them to have market for their produce, as well as giving them an incentive. It’s going to work out much cheaper.”

I have nowhere to go, I will be here until I die

He; however, noted that the government through the Department of Agriculture has been assisting farmers infrastructurally but they fail to produce. He feels with an incentive to produce they will do so.

Joint venture is another way he believes can yield good results in the farming sector, as he gave an example of such a model that exists in Aruba. “We have allowed Little Dix and others to be here for many years and they take all their profits overseas, even the children whose parents are working at the hotels don’t even get a bursary from them. So I am suggesting that the government change their modus operandi.”

“I am here and I consider here to be my home, I have nowhere to go and I am going to be here until I die. So while I am here I would like the people of the BVI to derive the benefits from this country,” said the resident.

If only we had more as passionate about agriculture – Dr Pickering

Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) was moved by the energy and passion of the local farmer and noted that if there were more persons with like passion the territory would do better in that field.

Welcoming the “incentive” idea, Hon Pickering said he has spent the last several years talking about climate change and food security but, “Critical components especially now that we all need to embrace is technology. How do we apply technology especially in the area of agriculture?”

He said within his department they are working to devise a method that would inspire persons not to only see agriculture as digging a hole and putting something in the ground but the wider scope of the businesses. “Right now we have three major proposals before us to help develop agriculture and agri business in the BVI,” said the Minister.

Land will be Gov’t incentive

He said all of those proposals are taking into consideration technology, especially the greenhouse technology. “One of them is talking about food waste and converting food waste to develop agriculture, one is talking about using fish farming and using the waste products from fish to generate the by-products from that to be able to generate the energy necessary to grow the food and of course all of them are including the concept of green technology using alternative energy.”

He added that government is moving to fuse the agriculture department with that of fisheries, “Because we see the importance of forming a regulatory body to help deal with some of the wider issues that even just came about.”

Hon Pickering said the subsidy that is going to be involved in developing agriculture includes government providing the land and helping to utilise what land is available to form cooperatives and to generate business opportunities.

He also said there is a plan to take a joint venture proposal to Cabinet. The proposal involves a foreign company and a local who want to lease three acres of land from government.

13 Responses to “Local food is better than ‘garbage’ from USA- VG Resident”

  • one eye (27/01/2018, 09:47) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    Blah blah blah blah blah
  • Marlisa (27/01/2018, 10:30) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    Sadly to say, I wish we produced enough to feed the entire BVI, but we don’t. There is a saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”. In reality, if we didn’t get outside help for our food, we would Starve to death. Agriculture should have been up and running years ago at Paraquita Bay and to now blame it on the hurricane is absurd. The tents were there so long and no food was produced for us. Who’s to blame???
    • In agrerment (27/01/2018, 16:04) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
      @Marlisa, very true. My garden was destroyed but I started planting again. Anything that can grow in this climate, I have in my garden. I can say my garden is 100% organic.
  • eye eye (27/01/2018, 10:54) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
    you are so right there. us mass produces poison, only local/home garden stuff or animals any good - but hunting
    them yourself still best tasting meat. factory food is doo doo.
  • E. Leonard (27/01/2018, 11:51) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Food security must be top on the bucket list of things to do. Local agricultural products may be healthier and fresher. Further, purchasing locally produced food is an economic multiplier. Nonetheless, the economics of local food production has to be taken into consideration. On the surface, it may appear that local foods should be cheaper. However, the production cost of the large external multinational corporations (MNC) will be lower. For example, local banana producers may not be able to compete with say Chiquita on production cost. Local producers will have to differentiate themselves on other things, ie, freshness, organic.........etc.

    Moreover, the BVI population has skyrocketed; the current estimated population is approximately 30,000. Additionally, the BVI does not have the available arable land acreage to feed itself even if wanted to. Further, some arable land that was used for farming (wuking grund) in the past is being converted to other uses, ie, housing. Furthermore, the VI has gone through a social change where there is a stigma to wuking grund; as older farmers passed on, there is a decreasing interest in wuking grund. Further, its (BVI) quality of life and standard of living has changed; it has one of the highest per capita income ($34K) in the region. As such, consumers shop at supermarkets, not at the “Market”. Thus, the bottom line is that the BVI is not self sufficient in food production; to meet demand, it has to import food.

    Nevertheless, as noted in the opening, food security is a critical item on the BVI bucket list. Consequently, maximum effort must be employed to optimized output from limited arable land. The food security issue has to be addressed before the boats stop coming or cannot come. Government has to be a key player in enhancing the food security posture. What can government do?

    Here are some suggestions:
    1. Subsidize farming as the VG resident suggested . The subsidizing has to be effectively managed; subsidies must come with demonstrated production effort and gurantees, weather and other issues permitting;
    2. Establish a functioning central market (Tortola, Anegada, VG and Jost Van Dyke) for farmers to sell produce;
    3. Provide discounted fertilizers to farmers;
    4. Educate farmers on how to increase yield per acre; task and weaponized HLSCC with educating our farmers;
    5. Create the environment and encourage tourism facilities to purchase local eggs, poultry, vegetables from local farmers. Farmers need to meet any reasonable standard sets, along with delivery reliability......etc;
    6. Lease crown land to local farmers for agricultural uses. Lease must come with specific terms and conditions;
    7. Ensure that owners of live stock keep them penned/fenced in. Farmers may also need to fence their farm area as added security;
    8. Assist farmers with irrigation, equipment, transportation, abattoir.........etc; and
    9. Government need to market and promote agriculture as a vital function; it may not generate as much government income as financial services and tourism yet it is no less an important sector. Food security is a national security issue.

    Let’s imagine and visualize a critical food shortage.

    • hm (27/01/2018, 12:38) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      It would be healthier to shop at the markets and get fresh foods instead of the supermarket with foods full of preservatives and poisons. This is something the Europeans actually do better than America.
  • wize up (27/01/2018, 20:33) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    now here is where some of us will understand: I recall the days when this little place supplied the USVI with food: I have relatives in their 90s who grew up consuming what they grew although in their 90s still making tarts and finishing well at least before those hurricanes: so here is Whats
    so perplexing-where we are now in 20s is a far step backwards to where we should or could be; so there is something wrong or something has gone world: is it a social issue; is it a political Issue or enforcement issue-some thing wrong
  • Prophet (28/01/2018, 10:17) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The food that comes from America is grown is south America cheaply with pesticides and harvested young & given hormones to ripe them quickly. This is why the people that eat it end up sick wih cancers and disease and Americans support their local farmer's markets and pay slightly more for better product. But we have a problem with that understanding and reality so we ignore our good food and our farmers & fishermen trying to be what we think they are.

    Subsidize bagged top soil
    Use the greenhouses
    Legalize marijuana
    Promote the growing of medicinal herbs
    Invest in a farmer's Market
    Restore the wells
    Invest in a deep sea fishing fleet
    Restore the mangroves
    Have proper sewerage & drainage
    Separate the materials at the incinerator so that toxins are carelessly released into our atmosphere

  • new party (28/01/2018, 10:35) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    The NDP killed agriculture for a useless stupid beach in brandy wine bay
  • island man (28/01/2018, 16:19) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    You showing a kitchen garden and saying local food is better than the USA garbage.
    Can you supply enough to the consumer for at least 2 days?
    • wize up (28/01/2018, 21:23) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ Island Man: find out who is the local minister with responsibility for agriculture then ask them your questions(I am trying to understand your point): I walk into a supermarket near Pasea Estate bought some bananas; the banana skin dem nice and yellow but young on the here writing piss especially on a Sunday!!!!
  • trrefdrfds (29/01/2018, 11:27) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I see a lot of good ideas, so there are still people who are passionate about farming, the sad thing is, the government wants us to use new technology, maybe some adjustments can be made and look at the way we farm and grow crops and slowly recommend some technology that would make things easier, people hate change but if introduced correctly they will adapt to change but for the mean time the Government need to stop talking and do something, start small - we can start with one or two crops, maybe we might even be able to export after a while, cut out one thing for example eggs, lets start with that and perhaps banana/cassava.

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