The Ministry of Agriculture has merged with the Department of Conservation & Fisheries — a move expected to improve food security locally, among other things.
This is according to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe who told BVI News food security will be improved because more attention will be given to the subject area.
She said: “Given the synergy between the agriculture and fisheries sectors with respect to food production, the central focus of the [merged] Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is food security and regulation of the agriculture and fisheries sectors. Approaching food security from a holistic perspective brings a greater degree of emphasis to this important subject.”
Stoutt-Igwe further told our news centre, “the merger also facilitates operational cost savings due to the streamlining of services and shared use of resources which would have had to be duplicated when the sectors were managed separately.”
The merger has also resulted in several staff members being transferred to other ministries or departments across the public sector.
“There are 110 positions at the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries. However, only 57 of those positions are currently filled. Of the 57 persons, 21 have been reassigned to other ministries/departments,” Stoutt-Igwe stated.
She further said public officers whose primary functions were fisheries-related, including staff of the BVI Fishing Complex, are now stationed at Paraquita Bay on Tortola.
On the other hand, those attached to the Environment & Climate Change Unit are now housed at the former location of the Conservation & Fisheries Department in the Quastisky Building close to the roundabout.
The remaining units within the Conservation & Fisheries Department have been incorporated under the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour & Immigration and are now a part of the Environment & Climate Change Unit of that ministry.
Merger to promote a better public service
Though the merger was approved in 2018, it only came into effect from in January 2019.
It is said to be part of the public service transformation process aimed at promoting greater efficiency and prudent use of resources across government ministries and departments.
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