Information Officer II
Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley has said that it is critical to increase sustainable access to water and coordinated initiatives toward financing the management of the resource are essential for the overall development of the Virgin Islands.
Premier Wheatley in remarks to mark the observance of World Water Day 2023 said the Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to mitigating the implications of water shortages, through the plan to add a reservoir to service Paraquita Bay, and the formulation of a water policy for agricultural producers.
Premier Wheatley who is also the Minister responsible for Agriculture and Fisheries said that this year, World Water Day with the theme, “Accelerating Change”, significantly coincides with Farmers and Fishers’ Week in the Virgin Islands.
The Premier added, “Although water remains a fundamental input for sustaining agricultural production, unfortunately, due to environmental factors like climate change, water as a resource is becoming increasingly scarce. In fact, it is expected that by the year 2050, the global population will surpass 10 billion, necessitating a redoubling of efforts for more robust agriculture systems that are underpinned by effective irrigation infrastructure.”
This year’s Farmers and Fishers’ Week is operating under the theme “Farmers and Fishers, Building the Third Pillar of the Economy”, and Premier Wheatley emphasised
that capitalising on the economic potential of agriculture and fisheries through meeting the increasing demand for food, will involve a multifaceted approach to water management.
Meanwhile, Director of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Theodore James, stated that agricultural producers and food processors are the largest consumers of water. He explained that water is required for day-to-day operations including tending to livestock, and the cultivation of healthy plants.
Mr. James said, “In order for local farmers to produce food for the Virgin Islands, an accessible and consistent water supply is paramount. The lack of water severely limits agricultural production and increases the likelihood of pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest losses.”
The director added that not only is access to water essential but, the quality of water equally impacts the cleaning, sanitisation, and processing of fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish.
Mr. James reiterated that food security, sustainability, and business continuity are affected by the water supply, its distribution, storage, use, and cost. He said building the third pillar of the economy requires a targeted focus on effective water management to support the increased and sustainable production of food in the Virgin Islands.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries continues to strive towards responsible management of resources to maintain a conducive environment in which the fishing and agricultural sectors can thrive.