The Food Security and Sustainability Act (2022) has officially received royal assent.
Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley made the announcement last Friday at a one-on-one press conference with the local media.
The Food Security & Sustainability Act, which is a brainchild of Dr Wheatley when he was the Minister of Agriculture, was officially introduced to the House of Assembly in February of this year and passed in April.
The Act seeks to provide for the establishment, powers and functions of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Virgin Islands
Agriculture and Fisheries Authority and respect the effective administration and management of agriculture and fisheries resources in the territory.
It also speaks to the development and review of the policy for sustainable agricultural production, food security and food safety to ensure that the sound and sustainable production, management, and use of food for Virgin Islanders, residents and visitors to the territory.
The bill does these things while addressing the impacts from climate change and disasters on food production.
Dr Wheatley, who was delighted the bill received royal assent said: “We now officially have a new legal framework within which to advance agriculture. Now that the Act is law, we are moving hastily to establish the Agriculture and Fisheries Authority to manage the sector as stated in the Act.”
“Another important step we are taking to advance agriculture is to formalize the process of issuing land leases to farmers at Paraquita Bay. In the weeks ahead, Cabinet will approve an official process that will provide our farmers with the legal certainty they require to continue to confidently be farming the land,” the Premier added.
In addition to the Act, the government is in the process of making funds available for infrastructural development that will help to facilitate farming, especially access to water, Premeir Wheatleay has indicated.
“Among other things, the House of Assembly will soon approve a Supplementary Appropriation Bill (SAP) that will fund the construction of a reservoir at Paraquita Bay as well as equipment to pump water from our wells. These steps will improve our hardworking farmers’ ability to produce food for our people, especially as we see prices continue to rise due to inflation,” Dr Wheatley said.