The revised draft of government’s proposed Food Security & Sustainability bill has moved one step closer to becoming a law.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for World Food Day on October 16, Agriculture Minister, Dr Natalio Wheatley said the new bill will soon be presented to Cabinet for a decision.
“We’ve recently obtained a revised draft of the bill from the Attorney General’s Chambers and we are now aiming to submit it to Cabinet in the coming weeks and then to the House of Assembly,” Dr Wheatley said.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Minister said he has spent his time, since gaining the portfolio, advocating for a better and stronger legislative framework to properly govern the agriculture and fisheries sector in the territory. He also said most of the laws relating to the agriculture sector are approximately a century old.
Wheatley said the bill will look to provide better opportunities for farmers and fisherfolk in the Virgin Islands.
“Among the main aims of this bill is the establishment of an effective mechanism to promote food security and sustainability in the territory through the Virgin Islands Agriculture and Fisheries Authority,” he said.
He further added the authority is expected to have more flexibility than the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. This means more purchases can be made directly from the farmers and fisherfolks. Wheatley said if the produces of the farmers and fishers are up to a standard set by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, they will be guaranteed a market to sell these products.
The Food Security and Sustainability bill is designed to provide legislative solutions for food shortages in the territory. The Virgin Islands relies heavily on food importation from other Caribbean islands and the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the amount of produce being imported.
The issue of food security is a global crisis as studies by the United Nations show that approximately 2.3 billion people across the globe do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food for proper nutritional values for growth and development.
The Food Security and Sustainability bill was crafted last year and has gone through several revisions. The ministry has also taken input from the different stakeholders in the industry on how best to move forward with the bill and tackle the issue of food insecurity.
Copyright 2022 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.