Information Officer II
Department of Information & Public Relations
Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
The Government of the Virgin Islands has launched its Rapid Response Fishing and Farming Production Programme to assist fishers and residents who are engaged in farming in backyards, containers and on lands.
Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley said the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands has approved a sum of $2 million to stimulate the local fishing and farming sector which includes the purchasing of supplies for fisher folk and farmers to ramp up production and provide the local market with the food for self-sustenance.
Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Theodore E. James said everyone should get into the practice of growing and rearing their food. He said the department is prepared to assist persons interested in getting started and now has seeds for distribution including cucumber, lettuce, cilantro, squash and spinach. Other vegetable seeds and fruit trees can be found at local plant shops throughout the Territory. Persons are also asked to practice trading plants so the community is gainfully supplied.
Mr. James said, “We hope to improve self-sufficiency and to improve healthy living through fresh local meats, fish, poultry, herbs and produce. We should not be going to the store for mint, lemongrass, rosemary, basil, tomato, pepper, lettuce and spinach; those can be grown in our backyard or on the veranda in containers.”
The director said not only can fruits be freshly eaten, but they can also be turned into other products such as jams, drinks, filling for tarts, liqueurs, candy and provide flavour and filling for ice cream. He further encouraged parents to contribute by making farming and fishing a family activity.
Persons who have land and have no immediate interest to develop for housing are also encouraged to plant guava, guava berry, mango, soursop, banana and coconut orchards.
For more information about accessing seeds or support to commercial farmers and fishers from the Rapid Response Fishing and Farming Production Programme, persons can contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at 468-6123 to register and give information on the type of support needed. In the coming week, the Cabinet appointed committee will determine the criteria for the stimulus package. Further information will be forthcoming on the department’s action plan to stimulate farming and fishing in the Territory.