By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
A local farmer is calling for the government to heavily invest in sustainable farming as he believes it is the solution to solving some of the existing issues in the territory.
Referred to as Farmer Bongo, the Virgin Gorda resident told BVI News that once properly planned and instituted, sustainable farming can remedy the increasing crime in the territory and assist the economy with rebounding post-COVID-19.
“The government needs to build water reservoirs on each sister island and secure 10 acres of ground covered irrigated land on each island. There will need to be approximately 2,000 labourers to cultivate cash crops and long-term crops. These crops will also need to be a mix of crops to ensure provision of full nutrients such as protein and herbs to create medicine,” Farmer Bongo.
“Just as we are paying to import food into the country, it can now flip where we profit from exporting, feeding other countries as well as our own, instead of experiencing a loss in order to feed our own communities. With this in place, we can expect the government will profit no less than four million every year,” he added.
Make farming appealing to youth
Farmer Bongo said he believes a profitable sustainable farming industry can exist in the BVI if more is done to make farming a more attractive for younger generations.
“There should be more emphasis placed on teaching children about sustainable farming to have an increase in desire for the occupation. When the government supplies the needs of legally registered commercial farmers in the BVI and children come for school or club tours, they will be more inspired to join the workforce and increase the capital flow,” he stated.
Prisoners should be included in plan
He also said programmes should be incorporated for those incarcerated to allow them to volunteer their prison hours into farming throughout selected districts.
The sister island farmer said he believes this method would help to deter persons from participating in criminal activities.
“If they also include a plan to have inmates mandated to farm and take simple farming classes during the time incarcerated, it can help reduce the cost of feeding themselves and the excess harvested provisions can be donated to local food markets or as free food packages for those in need. Why have people sitting around as punishment when they have wronged the community? They should still be in service to the same community they have wronged,” he stated.
“This may encourage many people to stop or even lessen the crimes committed and simply just join a farming team. With there being a project this large, local people are secured jobs indefinitely and can also result in less crimes. They will not feel the need to traffic drugs for money, or prostitute for money, or reduce themselves to being thieves,” he explained.
Plea to government for assistance
The local farmer also said he had reached out to the government regarding the assistance he needed for his farming operations on Virgin Gorda.
And after not receiving any further correspondence after speaking to his district representative in 2019, the community of Virgin Gorda came to his rescue to assist where possible.
“We have been working with what we had and making the best of our growth. It is thanks to the supportive donations from community members and volunteer labourers that we have been able to continue to grow our farm,” he stated.
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