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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