Food security a priority, says BVI Governor

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John J. Rankin, CMG Governor of the Virgin Islands

By Government of the British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands, (BVI) –  The government of the Virgin Islands is committed to ensuring that our food production sectors are progressive and sustained through the support of legislation.

During the speech from the Throne on Tuesday, January 18, His Excellency the Governor John J. Rankin, CMG stated that government will introduce the Virgin Islands Food Security and Sustainability Bill, which revises and consolidates most of the Territory’s agriculture and fisheries legislation.

At the Fourth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly, government set a mandate to review and modernise existing agricultural and fisheries legislation to establish a harmonised framework for the sectors.

Governor Rankin said: “This Bill will establish the Virgin Islands Agriculture and Fisheries Authority to be the lead support in the future development of the agriculture and fisheries industries in the Virgin Islands.”

The governor stated that once the Virgin Islands Food Security and Sustainability Bill is enacted, government will begin consolidating and revising the regulations to support the primary legislation.

“This is necessary to develop sustainable agriculture and fisheries to support the needs of the people of the Virgin Islands and further strengthen the tourism sector, supermarkets, restaurants, and the cruise and yachting industries,” the governor said.

The speech from the Throne signalled the opening of a Fourth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly under the theme: “Positioning the Virgin Islands through Legislation to continue improving the standard of living of our people.”

Meanwhile, minister for education, culture, youth affairs, fisheries and agriculture, Dr Natalio D. Wheatley said he was grateful to introduce his first Bill and is thankful to the officers at the ministry and the department of agriculture and fisheries for their hard work which has gotten it this far.

During the session in the House of Assembly, Wheatley said, several additional meetings will be held now that the bill is a public document. “We have had so many meetings on this Bill already but we will have additional meetings in preparation to come to the House of Assembly to have a thorough debate and to go through the Bill line by line in the committee stage to make sure we have the best Bill possible.”

Wheatley stated that the government of the Virgin Islands recognises the importance of food security, the livelihoods of farmers and fisherfolk and the opportunities in education and tourism that these sectors present.

“In order to move agriculture and fisheries to significant levels, government will strengthen linkages to the tourism industry to create new jobs and business opportunities for our people while sustaining our culture and providing food security,” he said.

Fishers, farmers and stakeholders are invited to the following public meetings to discuss the bill.

  • Meeting with fisher folk – Monday, January 31 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. under the Elmore Stoutt High School Tent at Lower Estate or log onto webex using the link: https://bit.ly/MeetDOAF1
  • Meeting with farmers – Wednesday, February 2 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. under the Elmore Stoutt High School Tent at Lower Estate or log onto webex using the link: https://bit.ly/MeetDOAF2
  • Meeting with Stakeholders – Thursday, February 7 at 7:00 p.m., LIVE on Facebook @BVIGovernment or @GOVIDOAF

To view the Bill, visit the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries page on the government’s website at bvi.gov.vg or bvi.gov.vg/doaf. Comments can be emailed to mec@gov.vg.

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