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Calls made for agriculture legislation; laws promised

Local agriculture workers on Wednesday (January 11) at a public consultation on the territory’s proposed recovery plan.

The Disaster Recovery Coordination Committee has promised to get fresh legislation implemented for the local agriculture industry, which is now widely being described as neglected.

Chairman of the recovery committee, Brodrick Penn made the pledge yesterday following calls from the local agriculture community.

Agriculture workers called for a number of legislation including laws relating to pesticides, as well as protection laws on certain imported products.

The workers suggested that certain agricultural products entering the British Virgin Islands threaten the health of local consumers.

“With legislation in place, we can protect what is coming into our country… With proper legislation in place, we would be providing food security – nutritious food for our people,” said one farmer who received strong support from her counterparts.

Ban genetically-modified imports

Farmers also called for protection laws barring the importation of genetically-modified seeds.

One agriculture worker noted that the adverse effects of genetically-modified plants are easily multiplied and spread from plant to plant when bees cross-pollinate.

“It is causing a lot of problems in places right now and in people’s lives and their health, and it’s going to continue to do that. So, I think we need legislation,” the farmer said.

Penn agreed overall with the agriculture workers’ arguments.

He said: “We need legislation reform throughout all the sectors but we certainly hope we will advance with that one (agriculture-related laws) as quickly as possible.”

In the meantime, the agriculture sector is expected to get a relatively small bite of the funds allocated for recovery.

Of the $721.3 million government is acquiring for recovery, agriculture is projected to receive $1.1 million.

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22 Comments

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  1. HMPH says:

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6

    So the farmers want legislation to protect their ridiculously high prices and stop competition from cheaper imports!!
    Why isnis cheaper to buy fruit and veg imported from the DRvthan grown here?

    • BLOCK HEAD !!! says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

      GO AN BUY THE CHEAPER IMPORTS BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEAPER.
      WHO STOPPING YOU FROM GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD.

      DONT YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THE GMO(GOOGLE IT) IMPORTS WILL KILL YOU AND MODIFY OTHER PLANTS AND IN THE LONG RUN EVERYONE WILL PAY THE ULTIMATE PRICE !!!

    • Common sense. says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      Try do your own farming.. then you will appreciate local vegetables.And the price.
      I always look for our own local produce..

      Doctor bills are higher.

  2. Albion says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

    Legislation will not make a hopelessly uncompetitive industry suddenly become relevant. There is absolutely no way the BVI can produce as much food as it needs – it will always need to import. And so long as it does, imported food will always be cheaper then local grown food.

  3. James says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    Albion: i can only agry with half your contribution but none the less its your oppinion the b.v.i will always have to import food yes but we can choose one or two comodity that we can grow here localy. Farmers need to get educated on how to farm in this modern day to feed a growing contry. They will need technical suport from the government of the day. And secure market for there prodoct famers need to travel and see how other contry dose it and get other idears and practice. They cant wait for government for it all for them. But sertinly much more can be done to inhance the agriculture sector in this contry.

    • Albion says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      BVI has never had a history of large scale agricultural production, and for good reasons: our land is mostly steep and stony; we have a high population density and low overall land area; very few arable crops grow well in our climate; and it is almost impossible to produce them on a commercial scale to make them economically viable. I am all for supporting local farmers, but whatever way you look at it: (1) we will need to keep importing food, and (2) imported food is always going to be cheaper.

      • To Albion says:

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

        We use to supply ourselves and the US Virgin Islands. Sounds like it was large scale to me.

      • Farmer says:

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        What do you think all those ruined sugar/rum works through the bush were for ? That was major scale agricultural processing like never seen before or since. Under extreme pre enlightenment conditions of humans exploiting humans.
        From before the end of slavery to the late 1950’s the BVI was feeding its self and others near by with very little importation.
        The challenge now is to find a way to balance the service economy ,with all its trappings , and an entrepreneurial agrarian economy will all it freedoms.

  4. BVI says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    I’m totally with local farmers

  5. Mr.T says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    I must say we are in a massive food crisis here in the BVI.
    As we face global warming, fires, floods, stronger hurricane and powerful snow storms food prices are increasing due to demand and production.
    American Farmers are left with no choice but to cut short cut and add nasty pesticides to protect their stocks, but It slowly killing and poisoning our people.
    The Green House project might have been a wonderful thing for the VI if they did organic farming.
    Our local farmers need to be protected but at the same time we have to make food prices affordable to encourage our people to eat fresh fruits and Vegetables, that is the only way we can fight disease naturally, with the addition of vitamins, minerals.
    It is very expensive to eat healthy and this is not by chance it is by design.
    Compare a box of fry food to a fruit bowl? And compare locally grown tomatoes to the ones package in the shop?
    You will understand what we are dealing with. So all I am saying is we have to protect our farmers but at the same time they cannot price themselves out of the market.

    • TurtleDove says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

      “It is very expensive to eat healthy and this is not by chance it is by design.”

      Don’t think it is…Its the cost of doing business.

      The resources to grow food in the BVI are limited….I am talking about land and water specifically.

      Seeds are cheap and land and water is abundant in other places. If I can plant unlimited acres and have all the water I need and you only have a plot of land and little water who do you think will have the cheaper prices?

      I do agree that finding out what we can grow here economically and in abundance should be given a competitive edge by government but it has to be planned and executed well.

  6. Common sense. says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    Try do your own farming.. then you will appreciate local vegetables.And the price.
    I always look for our own local produce..

    Doctor bills are higher.

  7. Many says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    built empires, nations and millionaires and billionaires from sugar cane.

    These islands produced it for centuries, under different work=pay circumstances, however.

    Is the production of sugar no longer up for consideration any more?

    Why did St. Kitts, for example, stop growing and exporting?

    Is it no longer a viable crop?

    Perhaps someone can shed some economic and production facts on this?

    • Watcher says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      It is called sugar beet and grows as a root vegetable in temperate climates such as Europes. You extract sugar from it in factories next to the fields. It is what killed off the Caribbean sugar industry.

  8. E. Leonard says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Prior to the transition into tourism and financial services in the 60s and 80s, respectively, the BVI primary economy was subsistence agriculture. However, that was with a much smaller population (~10K);it was relatively self sufficient in food production and even provided its neighbor, the USVI, with food.

    Nonetheless, with a growing population(~30K) and limited arable land, it will be a challenge for the BVI to be self sufficient in food production. Additionally, with a growing and changing economy, some once arable agricultural land is being used for other purposes, ie, housing……etc. Further, the lack of water is another challenge. With a growing population and increasing demand, coupled with disappearing arable land, the BVI may not be self sufficient in food production. It will have to import a large quantity of its food need. This provides a food security, reliable access to safe, affordable and nutrious food, challenge.

    Morover, though the BVI may not be able to completely feed itself, it must maximized food production with available arable land and other resources. It can developed a niche by growing organic foods. Government play a critical role in food production, ie, providing water for irrigation, central market, renting of large farming equipment, lab support, seedlings, plants, transportation, low or no interest loans, loan guarantees, reduce duty on farm equipment, supplies……….etc. The questions that many consumers asked is why is imported food is more expensive than imported food? The reason may come down to production cost.

    Multinational corporations can produce goods at a lower production cost per unit. For example, Chiquita can produce bananas at a lower cost per pound than local farmers; Chiquita has an absolute advantage in banana production. Nevertheless, buy local though the cost may be somewhat higher (farmers need to keep prices reasonable tough); buying local has a multiplier effect on the economy. The food sources are known and it may be healthier.

    • E.Leonard says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Correction……….“The questions that many consumers asked is why is imported food is more expensive than imported food?” should have read “The questions that many consumers asked is why is local food more expensive than imported food.”

    • Diaspora says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      @ E. Leonard, good points. My 0.02 cents follows: Improvement of and access to medicine/medical care is driving up life expectancy and increasing the world population, increasing food demand. More food is being required to feed a growing population. Consequently, more land will have to be put into agricultural production, coupled with increasing the yield per acre.

      Thus, though the BVI may not be self sufficient in food production, nonetheless, it can take available actions to increase food production. It has limited arable land acreage but it should look to means to increase yield from its acreage. The world food supply will have to be increased to meet the increasing demand of a growing population both locally and world-wide. BVI needs to do its part to increase the food production and food supply. Government and the Agriculture Dept. must jump knee deep into improving agriculture and food production. More action, not just lip service, is needed.

      The late Hon Omar Hodge has been called home to rest, lying in state on 18 January, but it is a pity that the greenhouses were not put into operation while he was alive. It would have been nice to give him his flowers while he was living. Let’s arrest tribal politics and bury it; It is stifling/killing the BVI.

      • New Name says:

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        Folks, the greatest disease on earth is called ‘I did not know that I didn’t know” I know of a young agric professional here who can set up farming system that can feed the whole of BVI using the available lands at affordable cost. It will be organic and mineral fortified. He approached the Government folks and because he is from from here,they did nothing about his proposal.

  9. What about the Coconuts? says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Can we start with the rehabilitation of the coconut palms. If you look around the BVI. The Coconut palms have been nearly decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Coconuts are not only an important fruit crop but food crop as well. Many persons derive their livelihoods from the direct or indirect sale/ consumption of Coconuts.

    Lets start there please…..

    • Imagin that says:

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      A few years ago, my family property in Virgin Gorda had over 25 coconut trees. Agriculture department at the time claimed that a disease was affecting coconut trees in the BVI. Their Officers came and destroyed ALL of the trees with the promise of replacing all that were cut down. To date not one single tree was replaced. I have given up on asking. I did not mind paying a modest fee to replace them, but nothing…..

  10. Interested says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    We need to put more into agriculture and fishing.Hasn’t the recent hurricane taught us anything about the need to feed ourselves ?

  11. New Name says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Folks, the greatest disease on earth is called ‘I did not know that I didn’t know” I know of a young agric professional here who can set up farming system that can feed the whole of BVI using the available lands at affordable cost. It will be organic and mineral fortified. He approached the Government folks and because he is from from here,they did nothing about his proposal.

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