Agriculture Pushed Into The Wilderness

Javon Liburd, Staff Reporter | 1 Opinions
Published: July 14, 2017 11:51 am AST
Local farmers at Paraquita Bay
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
As persons of the Territory begin to construct a plan for a better British Virgin Islands, many issues deemed to be of great importance are being highlighted, including that of agriculture, and the diminishing of the sector in the Territory.

At a recent town hall meeting, the first of many under the ‘enVIsion 2040’ project, persons spoke to the importance of the agricultural sector in the BVI, expressing that it should no longer be disregarded and unattended too.

“Agriculture has been pushed further and further into the wilderness,” said an attendee, who spoke on behalf of the farming community of the BVI.

He stated that practices synonymous with farming are now being chastised, and forced to stop, because of the changing times and the locations where persons choose to build their homes.

“Houses are popping up here and there, all around the place where people have property. Once a house goes up, you can’t burn anymore. On the matter of zoning, what we used to be able to tolerate as persons, medically we cannot do any more.”

He said, “We have so many persons with allergies now, allergic to smoke and fumes, and those are so very common to the agriculture sector. People still dispose of their bush and waste product by burning. Once upon a time we used to be able to do that freely.”

He stated that regardless of the changing times, the sector is still important to persons in the Territory, who depend on it for their income. He also noted that the sector contributes to the national development of the country.

“Agriculture is relatively small in comparison to tourism and the financial services sectors. It may yet become once again very important to us. There is still a certain sector of the community that practices farming here and it’s important to us.”

He said, “Regardless of what industries we have otherwise, we must make provision and preparation for agricultural development.”

Other persons of the community also spoke to food security.

Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
“How are we going to develop going forward to 2040? Food is going to be a serious issue going forward. You have to be able to do agriculture in your islands to sustain yourself. You might not have everything, but you might have some of the basics, said Chezley Stoddard, who attended the meeting.

He added, “So how would you balance those two aspects going forward as people produce children, they become adults and they want to live on their own and have their own families? We have to figure how are we going to place those people and still be able to sustain ourselves with the growth of agriculture.”

The enVIsion 2040 project will see a series of community meetings, where persons are encouraged to give their opinions as to changes that should be made in relation to land use, economic, environmental and cultural aspects of the BVI, in addition to things that should be implemented or enhanced, to advance and improve the BVI as a Territory, by the year 2040.

The project, which is being led by Dr. Cassander Titley-O’Neal, Principal of Environmental Systems Limited, will run until June 2018. A formal report of the findings will be presented at that time.

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