BVI News

Demand greater than supply! COVID-19 crisis causes boom in local agriculture sector

While most other local industries are being crippled by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, agriculture in the British Virgin Islands is experiencing a boom.

This upsurge in the sector has, however, caused a demand for local food that is currently greater than supply.

“Because of the current crisis and the scarcity of the food in the supermarkets, the demand, obviously, has gone through the roof so we have a long backlog list,” local fruit and vegetable farmer Aragorn Dick-Read said in a recent interview with BVI News.

Dick-Read — the owner of the family-operated Good Moon Farm on Tortola — usually supplies to charter vessels within the tourism industry.

More than 200 deliveries in days

But with that industry in absolute collapse, his farm’s produce now supplies residentially with what he described as farm boxes containing an assortment of produce.

“Since this crisis, we’ve delivered over 200 boxes,” Dick-Read told our news centre. “For two weeks, we didn’t deliver at all for the most part [because of the initial lockdown period] … But, in the past couple days, over 250-plus boxes have gone to households. I don’t know how many individual people they’re feeding but it’s probably way over five/six hundred people.”

Network of agriculture workers

A network of local farmers and fisherfolk are now collaborating to help manage the demand and offer support to each other.

Samantha Brown and her two-year-old Tidal Roots Farm is part of that network and she, too, is experiencing a spike in the demand for produce.

“Just today, I’ve had to turn down a lot, a lot of people. The demand is at least three times more than what I can supply,” she stated.

Losses

Like other farmers, however, Brown said her business suffered a considerable loss at the start of the pandemic when government sent the territory into lockdown.

She said some of her produce turned to waste during that time.

“Now that the BVI has allowed for farmers to do deliveries, I’m getting produce out. But for the past couple weeks, I haven’t been. So, I had a little bit of wastage, which was bad. I also had some part-time help. But, with the shutdown, I haven’t had any help … I’m looking forward to having my employees back to get the farm in better shape,” she admitted.

COVID-19 crisis proves the importance of local agriculture

Jamal Bradshaw who operates the local farm Plant Wise with his wife Strassa, said the COVID-19 crisis has revealed clear weaknesses in the BVI’s agriculture sector.

He said it is also teaching lessons about the significance of local agriculture.

“It has just proven the importance of having our own sense of sustainability, especially through food security,” Bradshaw said while also describing business since the pandemic as being ‘quite great’.

“The demand has increased since this pandemic to the point where … I’m looking to see If I can create a bit more expansion. It’s maybe three times the increase in demand,” he added.

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11 Comments

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  1. good start says:

    Any word on the Green Houses? WHERE THERE IS NO VISION……

    Like 4
    Dislike 2
    • It's About Time says:

      Just look what it had to take for them to get serious about our farmers?
      No just this government, but the former governments also. Everybody pushing medical marijuana, can that feed us now? BVI wake up. We us to feed the USVI and more. They need to start back building ponds and wells where the springs are so the farmers can always have a steady supply of water.
      We did it in the past, it is not rocket science.

      Like 24
  2. No nonsense says:

    Hell No we planting medical marry war Nah!!

    Like 3
    Dislike 7
    • ? says:

      Can you come up with a sensible argument against adding one more crop to the list?

      I can think of a few good reason to legalize it.

      #1 Medical implies there is a need of the crop for persons who require it for healing.

      #2 People will not be smuggling it in while a global pandemic is upon us.

      #3 It is a food crop. A super food at that thrives in harsh climates.

      #4 More money in peoples pockets, less money in the hands of those engaged in other criminal activities.

      #5 It is a religious sacrament, explicitly spoken of as a seed bearing herb in genesis, used by a large portion of our population.

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
    • Daffy Duck says:

      Back to the earth we must go, plant a seed let it grow

  3. Phoenix says:

    What about developing an emergency farmers co op where the greenhouses were/are? (dunno- haven’t been back there in a long time)
    There is water back there, right?

    Agriculture can look up various farming co ops and decide which one suits us (selling through the co op or privately, etc…) NOW, divide into small and large plots and invite WORKING farmers to join.

  4. Sue says:

    BEAUTIFUL, AND ITS YOUNG PEOPLE AT THAT.

  5. Legalize says:

    Time to legalize the herb. Yes it is a food crop. The whole plant is edible and medicinal.

    With the borders closed this is the best time to start an internal market and raise understanding surrounding one of our national treasures.

    Its not about money.

    Its about healing, feeding the people, decriminalizing a large portion of the population, religious freedom and personal liberty.

    Allow everyone who wants to grow it to do so freely like every other crop.

    Everyone can grow food but really who is willing to get their hands dirty? This is the plant that will spark an agricultural revolution & renewed interest in all aspects of agriculture.

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  6. What says:

    so you mean the ganja dead?

    Like 1
    Dislike 2
  7. E. Leonard says:

    The world population is increasing and so too is/will the demand for food. It is risky for the BVI to import 80% or more of its food needs. This risk is being exemplified by the constraints put on trade by the Coronavirus virus pandemic. It could be a nightmare scenario of people scrambling for food if the US and other nations restrict or stop export altogether and the container ships stop coming.

    Moreover, though the BVI was once self-sufficient in food production but is not now due to a myriad of factors, it is in the national interest to produce as much food as practical. This plan of action, a) reduces the food import bill (creating a multiplier effect in the economy and creating employment), b)provides a healthier and high quality food supply and c) enhances the national food security posture. What should be government the plan of action and milestone(s) to address this concerning issue??

    Government must develop, launch and execute a comprehensive and holistic national food production and management action plan to increase local food production; the plan of action cannot be a flash in the pan but must be sustainable. It should look at alternative modes of producing food, eg, greenhouse, hydroponic…..etc. Further, it must strive to significantly increase the yield per acre. Increasing food production should be a national effort, not only government’s. Every resident should be encouraged to partake in the food production effort, ie, small back yard garden…….etc. What if the ships stop coming?

  8. Jane says:

    [farmer] was taking the absolutely p*** when he stocked people’s “veg” boxes with cactus leaves….people are in lock down and relying on that food. You might technically be able to “eat” cactus, but people were expecting spinach, dasheen and carrots and other normal food. It was close to being dishonest and certainly lacking any moral fortitude to do that to people.c

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