Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Even as all of the political parties continue to tout an improved agriculture sector under their governance as the General Election draws nearer, Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP), Hon. Andrew Fahie has zeroed in on the topic.
This time, Hon. Fahie is promising legislation to ensure that local produce is consumed first, before importing the same produce.
Speaking during his District One Address on Saturday, January 26, he said, “A nation that cannot feed itself is a nation on life support. This change we will make together will ensure that legislation is passed to regulate the agriculture sector.”
Expounding on this commitment, Hon. Fahie went on to state, “This will ensure that monthly consumption of produce be allotted through the agriculture department through farmers, and before import of these products to our Territory, the local produce must be consumed.”
The necessary subsidies will be put in place to assist farmers in meeting the required targets, he further promised.
Additionally, to streamline more revenue, attention will be placed on making local produce—especially fish and poultry—export ready.
“This change we will make together will allow your VIP government to create an avenue for the exporting of sea food, which will include processing and packaging to meet international standards for export regionally and internationally,” Hon. Fahie stated.
He added, “This change we will make together will make sure that legislation and regulations be put in place for the processing of our local poultry and meats to that of international standards.”
Since the beginning of the campaign season, candidates from the four parties—VIP, the National Democratic Party (NDP), Progressive Virgin Islands Movement and Progressives United (PU) have been making heavy promises to improve the agriculture sector with a view to increase food security, and to make the sector the Rerritory’s third economic pillar.
As a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the farming and fishing industries suffered over $13 million in losses; however, in the 2018 budget, a mere $300,000 was allocated to help with rebuilding the sectors.
Among the promises made by candidates thus far are for the establishment of an Agriculture and Fisheries Complex and Marketplace; implementation of greenhouse technologies; and loans and grants for farmers and fishermen.