BVI News

New legislation and statutory body coming to boost BVI agriculture

Dr Natalio Wheatley

Government has revealed plans to revitalise the local agriculture industry through the implementation of new legislation and the establishment of a new statutory body.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Dr Natalio Wheatley made it clear during a recent airing of the Honestly Speaking with Claude Skelton Cline radio programme that the VIP government will not be neglecting the core of agriculture in the territory in pursuit of capitalising on the marijuana industry.

“We’ve made a decision that we are going into the marijuana industry and persons believe that means that we are going to ignore crop production and live stock production. Nothing can be further from the truth,” the minister stated.

“In fact, just this week we have a consultant from Canada who’s been working with us here in the Virgin Islands for some time, who is actually revising legislation to help establish a commercially viable agricultural industry. The legislation for agriculture is decades old, and there’s a lot of things that we can do in that legislation to modernise agriculture and fisheries.” he added.

Proper structure lacking

Dr Wheatley further said he believes that agriculture in the territory is in dire need of a proper structure. He said it needs proper investments and persons who are passionate about farming, where government can then assist to setup those persons.

He started: “Right now we give them land, we might give them some posts and fences and say make magic happen, but they need certain inputs to be able to be successful. And then what we are going to do is set up a statutory body that is actually going to set a farmer up in an operation, and contract them to be able to grow a particular crop.”

Statutory body to create proper structure

Minister Wheatley further said he believes the introduction of a statutory body will bring consistency to the marketplace, since crops and livestock will be better coordinated to meet the various market demands. 

 “We will be basically contracting farmers to grow a particular crop, and we will give them a guaranteed market, whatever it is they can produce we will buy, and we are going to make sure it gets to the supermarkets, to the restaurants, to farmers market etcetera,” Dr Wheatley explained.

Government has been embarking on a number of new agriculture initiatives which are geared at sustaining the economy, as the territory is projected to continue to suffer major declines in its premium income earner which is the financial services sector.

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  1. well sa says:

    The purpose of a statutory body is to promote efficiency in its sector while functioning as a self-sufficient entity.

    The Minister needs to ask himself if a statutory board responsible for Agriculture has the ability to be self-sufficient. If not, it is better off leaving this proposal well alone for the cost would way surpass the desired benefit.

    Unless this is another mechanism to give another VIP supporter a highly paid job at tax payers expense.

    Like 17
    • More Info says:

      A statutory body? You mean like the BVI Fishing Company and the Poultry Revolving Fund? Both went BUST! What is different here?

  2. Yep says:

    Didn’t VIP try this a few years ago with the $5 million IBT greenhouses ? Only thing that was produced there was weeds !

    Like 11
  3. vip heckler says:

    This mouth man has been in power one year now and haven’t even planted one seed up to yet. He need to get down to business instead of hanky pankying around with his ministry

    Like 11
    Dislike 1
  4. look trouble says:

    Put a dress on a mop stick and it will be in trouble …

  5. TurtleDove says:

    Went to St. Croix now another knee jerk action. Sit down see what is feasible and make sense for the BVI. Come up with a plan and execute it slowly. You want it to last. St Croix is 84 sq miles and flat.

  6. Jack in the bean stalk says:

    All he needs is a bag of magic beans.

    Like 3
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  7. Shap says:

    “We will be basically contracting farmers to grow a particular crop, and we will give them a guaranteed market, whatever it is they can produce we will buy, and we are going to make sure it gets to the supermarkets, to the restaurants, to farmers market etcetera,”

    The old Soviet Union tried this. Didn’t work out well. Not sure what Dr Wheatley’s doctorate is in but guessing it isn’t agricultural economics.

  8. Jokes says:

    Another body to fill with incompetent supporters. If this Government makes it through their entire 4 year term it will be the biggest miracle in BVI history.

    Like 14
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  9. Anonymous says:

    This could be just what the BVI needs. another sauce of income and good local food . Let’s start

    Like 2
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  10. Good idea says:

    Just what the BVI needs local food and another sauce of income. Let’s start

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  11. Wow says:

    “We will be basically contracting farmers to grow a particular crop, and we will give them a guaranteed market, whatever it is they can produce we will buy, and we are going to make sure it gets to the supermarkets, to the restaurants, to farmers market etcetera,” Dr Wheatley explained.

    The poor Minister is greener than any pepper than can be grown here if he really believes this s**t. There is no guarantee in business so please stop fooling people with nonsense.

    Like 9
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  12. Diaspora says:

    The VI was once an agrarian society. However, among other factors the transition/surge towards services, ie, tourism and financial services, cause successive governments to neglect agriculture. Agriculture was not as sexy as tourism or financial services so it was left alone to die a slow death. Today, it is dying on the vine and is on life support and gasping desperately for oxygen. The Central Market was once a social gathering place; now the Central Market is poorly sited, managed and is in a neglected and deteriorated shape. The flame/light of another cultural ember is dimmed. Is another statutory body the fix for reviving agriculture?

    Is a statutory body a panacea for fixing and reviving agriculture? What is a statutory body? Simply, a statutory body is an autonomous body created by a legislature that has the power of government and the flexibility and initiative of a private business. Typically, a statutory body is self supporting. Can agriculture be self supporting? The staffing of a statutory body will recruit from the same small talent pool as recruiting for a department. So what can a statutory body that a well-planned, organized and directed department cannot do? Nada.

    Moreover, one of the advantages of a statutory body is that political change should not affect it and it maintains continuity of policies and operations. This is not a reality at this juncture in VI. Statutory bodies seem to be the habitat (reward) for family, friends, political cronies, supporters…….etc. We are all political animals and territory-state is our habit, for to the victor goes the spoils. Nevertheless, the constant changing of boards with a change in government reduces the effectiveness and efficiency of boards. Will this behaviour change? One will quicker see a green mule flying.

    On another note, agriculture, though the VI once was self sufficient in food production, for a myriad of reasons, ie, lack of flat arable land, skyrocketing population, declining interest in and stigmatizing of agriculture, water challenges, import competition, exit of older farmers……etc is not singularly going to be that third(3rd) economic pillar. Collectively with other things a third pillar can be developed. Nevertheless, the VI should produce as much food as possible to 1)reduce food import bill, b)enhance food security, c)create employment and d)produce fresher and healthier foods (organic)……..etc. Indeed, the VI can do poultry, vegetables……..etc. Clearly, there is a scarcity of arable land and against this backdrop, government must stare down the choices it face, evaluate and then decide. It must resist the current tendency to rush headlong into things with effectively exploring the consequences, the unintended consequences.

    Like 11
    • Crap says:

      Unless a serious push and investment is made to utilize technological means to produce crops then we need to just stop with the foolishness. Simple research will show that the traditional farming method will not work in the BVI on a large scale as we simply do not have adequate flat land space nor lands with the proper soil quality to produce the needed crops. Instead of making stupid promises how about engaging proven entities to decide what would work best for the BVI? How about meeting with all the farmers and being honest about the possibilities? The same VIP built the greenhouses costing us over $5 mil and we didn’t get one potato out of it. Why did that happen? Same thing, politicians going outside of their scope with their know-it-all attitudes.

      Like 11
  13. Taxpayer Money says:

    Whatever happened to the greenhouses? Has the approx $5M wasted on them gone down the same unaccountable rat hole as the $7.2M give away to BVI Airways, a bruk airline that had challenges staying air borne? That $7.2M could have fixed may 10 lane miles of road; that investment would kept nuff people and their cars happy. Has that $7.2M really gone just like that without any proper accounting? How many young men or women got a record for smoking a spliff but $7.2M could just vanish in thin air. Wow! Unbelievable!

    It seems like the con artists can stop “less” VI government officials a country mile away. They are easily sold a 6 for 9 from slick outsiders but dot every I and cross every T ( as they should for everyone) when it comes to locals. The con artists run off any old study on the Google machine and then rush to the BVI to sell it. Common on man, let’s do our home work. Develop, debate, design, demonstrate and decide!

    Like 11
  14. Sad says:

    The harsh reality is that we have a Government that is 2 weeks away from its 1 yr anniversary and desperately throwing s**t at the wall hoping that something sticks because they had no plans to run this Territory. It is glaringly obvious that these guys have no plans and no clue what to do with these Virgin Islands. 1000 jobs in 1000 days. To date, 77 jobs. Green energy, where are the statistics? Weed farming? Where are the statistics? Golf cart ride around town as a means of easing traffic, DUMBEST idea since stop lights at the roundabout. I can go on and on. Feb 26 2019 will go down as one of the darkest days in BVI History.

    Like 3
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    • Plans plans says:

      It is obvious to me they know exactly what they want and are working tirelessly to make it happen. Big bikes done. 1k jobs started. green energy coming. Legalized cannabis. Whats next?

      I dont have to agree with it all but they are making the changes happen unlike that last government which was basically a colonial antique, stiff, cant move nothing but money.

      As for what the UK thinks about this ‘medical marijuana’, they had the brains to get a message from the throne about the coming legalization. We have their blessing to move ahead.

      They came out swinging, give jack his jacket.

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