BVI News

Agriculture will be BVI’s main economic pillar — Pickering

Dr Kedrick Pickering

If all goes as planned, the agricultural sector is projected to outclass the local financial services and tourism sectors to become the main economic pillar for the British Virgin Islands.

Minister with responsibility for agriculture Dr Kedrick Pickering said he expects that to happen in a few years.

He said three major companies are already willing to invest in the local agricultural sector.

“Agribusiness is going to surpass financial services and tourism … I see an extremely bright future in terms of food security. I will even put my foot in my mouth and say within the next five years I expect to see some major, major development with the whole agribusiness development,” said Dr Pickering yesterday.

God bless Irma

According to the minister, Hurricane Irma provided an ‘excellent opportunity’ to build the sector.

At the time, Dr Pickering was responding to fresh calls for agriculture to play a more prominent role in the territory.

Paraquita Bay land to be leased

Dr Pickering— who recently claimed that the September 2017 hurricanes prevented the $6 million greenhouse project in Paraquita Bay from becoming a reality— announced new plans for the area.

“As we speak, we have three major companies vying to lease some of the lands at Paraquita Bay where some of the greenhouses were for the express purposes of developing the whole agribusiness industry,” he said.

“We will have food for export and unlike the previous issues that we had with the greenhouses, these companies are just asking for the government to lease them the land and they will invest all the capital themselves,” he added.

Locals to get jobs

While the details of the contract with the three companies are still being ironed out, the minister said jobs for locals will be negotiated.

“One of the most important things would be to ensure that locals are involved,” he said.

Dr Pickering said the three investing companies will be using modern agricultural methods to develop the local industry. He said that will contribute to agriculture becoming the BVI’s main revenue-earner.

The top-two sectors for the BVI are the financial service sector which accounts for roughly 60 percent of annual revenue and the tourism sector, which accounts for one in four jobs in the BVI.

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  1. Albion says:

    Successful agribusiness and agrarian economies rely upon (i) lots of cheap flat land, (ii) cheap labour, and (iii) easy access to export markets. Unless he plans to turn Anegada into one big farm, we have none of these things. Or is it possible that he just trying to justify public money to farmers at a time when public finances are under strain to secure the votes of a few dozen farmers at the next election?

  2. Anonymity says:

    Set of big talk, agriculture destroyed long before irma…

  3. Big Phil says:

    Is he hallucinating?

    • Tallfat says:

      No he just woke from 8years of sleeping. Lol! During his deep sleep we had save the whales, save the Dolphins, fishers to be second pillar. Meanwhile annual farmers week was left flat. Suddenly something that could have been done 7 years back is being hailed as first pillar wonders. With new money coming in all sorts of miracles will be predicted. I am sure agriculture will do well.

  4. Look mess! says:

    Agriculture is going no where. As a matter of fact, nothing has gone anywhere. Look at the mess at labour, the mess at the beaches, the mess in agriculture, the mess at the airport 10 million dollars after, the beaches are a mess- look at Cane Garden Bay, your district is mess. It’s all just one big mess all around you!

  5. nick says:

    moderns methods is most likely using pesticides and insecticides who will end up in paraquita bay after big rain.

  6. Bananas & Cucumber LOL says:

    I guess he needs some time out.
    Tourism is the only possible business.

    • @ Cucumber & BOOnanas says:

      The real deal is awaiting a skillful hand, fertile soil…and a full dose of imagination.

      As for Mr.James Bond, he is not ready for Prime Time, or he would not make such assertions without
      presenting some rational basis…for people who stick their necks that far out are likely to lose it and that includes Mr Bond…unless he plans to substitute it with alternate anatomy.

      As for me I’m rather content with an evening sung by Bread…paired with blue cheese than carrots or
      his long promised fish in abundance.

  7. Kingfish says:

    He is dreaming, same thing was said about fishing. He should focus on having local farmers produce certain crops in order to reduce imports.

  8. Eagle eye says:

    Boss you are late and less

  9. Peaches Cousin Sister says:

    Why you people keep voting this man back in??? Why why???

  10. WTF? says:

    Well, it just might work. If we collect all of the BS that the ministers are putting out, we could fertilize every garden in Tortola weekly. We’d have more food that we can eat and can sell it to USVI!

  11. Deliver us from Pucko says:

    Bwaaaaahahahahaaaaaa …..and that just turn into weeping for the BVI. Seriously? ????

  12. Brains says:

    Must have been smoking some agricultural product…what a ridiculous idea. Where is the land for this? The cheap labor that ag depends on? What’s going to grow? Ganja? Would have to change the laws on that. Even then, there is no way at all that ag could come up with a revenue of $ 500 million per year.

  13. Prophet says:

    Does he know or believe what he’s saying? He changed tune so quickly that maybe it’s someone else giving him these things to say. Now it’s a good idea b/c some person told him about agribusiness when we around here have been pleading with the gov for yrs.

  14. E. Leonard says:

    Take a different view of agriculture becoming the main economic pillar than Dr. Hon Deputy Premier Kedrick Pickering, D-7, MNRL ( agriculture portfolio) and veteran politician. From my vantage point, I do not see agriculture becoming the main economic pillar. True, increased agricultural production can reduce the food import bill, as well as enhance food security.

    From a historical perspective, decades ago with a smaller population the VI/BVI was basically self sufficient in food production; it also supplied the USVI, particularly St. Thomas, with food. Fast forwarding, the population has vastly increased (~30,000), boosting the demand for more food. The increasing demand for food require the BVI to import most of its food. The BVI can no longer feed itself; there a number of constraining factors to it doing so.

    These factors include: decreasing interest in agriculture, its small size (59sq mile), hilly terrain and poor soils, declining available arable land acreage, passing of older farmers, converting of limited arable land to other uses, lack of water and irrigation, higher production costs than overseas competitors, transitioning from a subsistence agricultural economy to a service-based economy(tourism and financial services), stigmatizing of agriculture ( working ground), changing and improving quality of life and standard of living among other factors.

    Nonetheless, the Agriculture Dept must be in the forefront in increasing agricultural production to lower the food import bill, to make fresher and organic food available, to provide education and training to farmers, to provide seedlings, equipment and machinery to assist farmers, to provide transportation and market place to sell products; to deliver water for irrigation………etc. If agriculture may not be the main economic pillar, what will?

    Moreover, no doubt, the BVI economy must be diversified despite its (BVI) small size and limited opportunities. The current economic twin pillars, tourism and financial services, must be improved and linked to other sectors, ie, tourism to agriculture to the maximum extent practical. Additionally, the BVI must looked at a knowledge-based economy, light manufacturing (cheap energy and transportation will be challenges), back office operations, fishing, medical tourism, construction (BVI is small and will build out quickly like St. Thomas and other small locales)……..etc. Singapore, a small country (~270 sq mile)in the China Sea and an economic power house is worthy of benchmarking.

    • Nickname says:

      Great suggestions though I would place greater emphasis on the need for major improvements in education if we want to be a knowledge-based economy.

      • E. Leonard says:

        Indeed, a firm, high quality and quantitative education foundation is critical to launching, growing and sustaining a knowledge-based economy. The VI is resource poor country; human resource is its most important asset. As such, it has to used human capital effectively, productively and strategically. Government has to strategically and tactically invest on education; BVI must commit to being a “learning nation. “ Singapore is a good model to benchmark.

        At independence(1965), its educational ranking was relatively low. Today, it consistently ranks at the top and leads the pack in educational achievements. Moreover, at independence its economy ranked at the bottom. Its per capita income was about $500,00; today it is approx $52K(2016). . Singapore is an Asian Tiger and an economic power house despite its small size—-270 sq m. Its educational improvements were/are a major contributor to its economic and educational success.

    • The Alchemist says:

      Your interpretation is very accurate, and it sounds like you understand the situation very well. However, what most of the commentators in this string don’t understand is that traditional farming techniques are not what the Minister is talking about. New technologies in protected agriculture can indeed work in BVI as in any other island in the Caribbean, and are. People are not aware of these new technologies, so they think its all hype. BVI may not reach the point of being a net exporter of agriculture again, but it can certainly make a big dent in the food import bill if they allow it to happen. The downstream benefits will open up to local farmers who will gain knowledge and access to these new technologies. See:

  15. Herb says:

    Legalize It, Don’t criticize it.
    Tax it and make a profit, M. Jane has done nothing to harm us

  16. Buckweet Dodo Pot Head says:

    Replay. Oooh Oooh Myrun on one news site talking legalize herb, is picko talking making money from it? Is he going to create a marijuana farm for he rich friends. Oh well I wanna get High on Election Day lol. Weed make you come to your senses. I’ll be high on voting them. ????????‍♂️

  17. watcher says:

    You cannot be serious. There is no flat land in the BVI other than on Anagada where there is no soil. What crops could the BVI grow that cannot be grown much more cheaply elsewhere.?

    If this is the quality of thought of ministers running the government it is very scary indeed.

    • watcher says:

      Though maybe on second thoughts he is right. The way this government is running the tourist and finance industries into the ground, it could well be that before too long someone growing an acre of mangy tomatoes is a bigger businees than both of them put together.

      • Retired says:

        I agree! When the tourists stop visiting the BVI and financial services industry leaves here then agriculture probably could be the main economic pillar of a desperate BVI economy in the near future.

  18. captain says:

    any one of you ask d minister what he plan to develope in Agriculture? it might well be medical marijuana
    then we will have an economic pillar

    go Picko go

  19. Island Eyes says:

    He is right, when nothing is left agriculture will be # 1.

  20. Resident says:

    This minister was in power for how long again? The green houses were sitting in parrie for how long again? Had they been put to good use we would have had food through out these past months. Why are they bringing in foreign people. You have the experts right here. Who know more about farming in the BVI than our local farmers. Form cooperatives walk the walk we tired hear talk. We’ve been hearing talk for years. Shut up and DO something!

  21. Sam the man says:

    Maybe the BVI will join the space race and send rockets up with satellites…. seriously what absolute total nonsense, Tortola is v hilly, the land not particularly suitable for growing crops etc – Agriculture as a productive industry is just crazy – its never worked and won’t – if this is the sort of advice provided I weep for the future of the BVI…

  22. Shame says:

    “Agribusiness is going to surpass financial services and tourism … I see an extremely bright future in terms of food security. I will even put my foot in my mouth and say within the next five years I expect to see some major, major development with the whole agribusiness development,”

    What kind of BS is this?

  23. Ah HA! says:

    Unless he is speaking of growing marijuana on a few acres in Pari for export for the medical marijuana businesses. Otherwise it’s a dead case.

  24. Thoughtful Sailor says:

    Since the government survives on collecting fees from the tourism and financial sectors, what sort of fees are they planning on extracting from the farmers?

    • Quiet Storm says:

      @Thoughtful Sailor, if agricilture booms and becomes the main economic pillar, lots of people will be employed, large quantities of equipment and machinery, tons of feed……..etc. It can collect millions from employment tax, duty………etc. If you believe this fairy tale, Brer Anansi tory, I got some black gold rich land on Dead Man’s Chest that I want to sell cheap.

  25. ??? says:

    I think Pickering is smoking that green agricultural product…

  26. Yorkshire Farmer says:

    I had to read your article twice as I disbelieved it the first time. If Dr. Pickering is indeed serious you Virgin Islanders really have something to worry about.
    The hard truth is your beautiful islands are only suitable for very tiny agricultural production. Your only hope of returning prosperity is high end tourism. The financial sector will struggle as tax management becomes more and more difficult throughout the World.

    Get the place cleaned up and I mean really thoroughly cleaned up. Do everything possible to make visitors welcome and you will have the big spenders return in droves. Please don’t waste your resources on stupid projects like greenhouses and other impossible agricultural dreams. God as set you the challenge now go to it.

  27. Learn from others says:

    Google Cayman agriculture show and see how it’s done!

  28. Greenhouse says:

    What about the greenhouses at HLSCC? Why won’t they finish one job before another?

  29. Hmm... says:

    I swearrrr all these ministers f…ing crazy….lord send help

  30. Diaspora says:

    Agriculture seems to be on a roller coaster ride; it went from a low priority to now a top priority; it went from a cold Artic freeze to a simmering heat at the Equator. Is Pico’s declaration an election year gimmick? Nonetheless, though the BVI may not be self sufficient in food production and agriculture contribution to the GDP low (1%), the neglect of agriculture is costly. A greater attention to agriculture could have reduced the food import bill and strengthen the food security posture.

    Moreover, as others have so eloquently noted, agriculture faces many challenges to becoming a major economic pillar. One factor is the lack of arable land. Another factor is competition from external producers/multinational corporations. External producers have the advantage of having lower production cost. For example, Chiquita has a much lower production cost per a pound of bananas than local farmers.

    From an economic standpoint, the BVI should produce stuff that it has a comparative advantage in (lowest opportunity cost) and trade for the rest. However, in regards to agriculture, the BVI does not have a comparative advantage. It will sacrifice more to produce agriculture products than external producers. Nevertheless, the BVI should produce as much as it can to lower the food import bill and improve food security. In spite of external competition, it (BVI) needs to explore opportunities to differentiate itself in agricultural production.

  31. Get real says:

    This guy is talking through his rear end again…next it’ll be starting Llama farms or breeding pedigree race horses for the race course!!!

  32. Concerned says:

    Well, here is a new opportunity for the chinese to come in and get land. Dr. Pickering in all due respect, think about what you said. Before this comment, you were all about the new airport (then you saw it was going nowhere and backed off, Then it was all bout the fishing industry and when the practicality of what you said was wrong, you backed off. Next you were going to spend millions to fix $5 million greenhouses, that no farmer wanted and were not usful, then you did the Brandywine man made beach, useless!! Now you are talking farmers supporting the BVI?? You don’t say much, but when you open your mouth, only ______ come out.

  33. Cypress Hill says:

    Big business and well …
    le’ we go, Doc. Le’ we go!

  34. Huh? says:

    This man smoking some high quality …what BS is this?

  35. Agriculture says:

    why are you making jokes out of me? You need to open your eyes and mind and realize that I CAN be the main economic pillar, at least just for this brief moment. Lots of revenue can be generated by agriculture and it also provide jobs for many. After Hurricanes Irmaria, there was NO FOOD. We had to be fed by the Recovery Centres and Not by OUR FARMS. Now is the time for Me to produce MY GOODS and serve my people. Can you just give me a Chance? Damn

  36. Agriculture says:

    Yes I can greatly reduce the food imports bill. This result alone, poses great effects on the BVI Gov. They would now be able to use that money on other tasks needed to get the BVI back to full normalcy, such as, both the Tourism and financial sector. I am Very Needed right now here in the BVI. Let’s have an open mind please.

  37. Merge says:

    I say that this plan can be a great move for the BVI even though there was a great destruction of the lands but there is something else that needs to be put in place which is the merging of both the tourism sector and the agriculture sector. Thus there will be funds for both sectors and the agriculture sector is being aided until it can get back up on its feet and that is when this plan can be executed effectively

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