This announcement was made during the Speech from the Throne delivered by His Excellency the Governor, Augustus J.U. Jaspert who said that as the Government of the Virgin Islands looks towards creating a more stable and diverse economy, food security is a priority area that also provides economic opportunities for the people of the Virgin Islands.
The Governor said, “The agriculture and fisheries sectors remain a part of the historical, economic and cultural identity of Virgin Islanders and will remain key elements of our Territory’s increased emphasis on food security. This is why “The Virgin Islands Agriculture and Fisheries Marketing Authority Bill” is being proposed, following a series of stakeholder contributions.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley explained that the Bill is one of the legislations that he is most excited about because he sees these areas as having great potential to help the people of the Virgin Islands.
Honourable Wheatley said, “Right now we need food security, right now we have to stimulate the agriculture and fisheries sectors and the Premier in his wisdom provided financing of a two million dollar grant for the sector but first we need to make some changes to get the most out of the sector. This is why we are introducing this statutory body.”
The Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture added, “The statutory body will make the department more fit for purpose when it relates to the commercial side and we will make sure the industry is better regulated than it was before and engage in commerce.”
The Bill is expected to establish a statutory authority to serve as the primary vehicle to coordinate the Territory’s focus on food security, supporting and fostering the development of the business of fishing and farming in the Territory and providing financial support to fisherfolk and farmers. Other responsibilities of the authority will include:
* Provide support and assistance to local licensed farmers and fishers in the development and operation of farming and fishing industries, including the provision of financing and support after disasters.
* Manage any incentives provided by Government to assist farmers and fishers, especially in times of emergency or disaster.
* Provide, operate, and maintain services/facilities in the Territory for the rearing, processing and sale of domestic livestock and locally reared fish.
* Provide for the sound management of domestic animals, pests and diseases.
* Provide food safety inspections at the port and at food production centres including slaughter houses and food processing plants to control pests and diseases, genetically modified organisms and living modified organisms.
The Bill is expected to be realised in early 2021.
The Speech from the Throne is delivered at the beginning of each new session of the House of Assembly (HOA) and is prepared within the Premier’s Office in consultation with ministries. The Speech is then deliberated and approved by the elected Government of the Virgin Islands. Subsequently, the Speech is delivered to the Governor. During the First Sitting of the HOA, the Premier and Minister of Finance, then moves a motion to invite the Governor to read the Speech from the Throne. The Government’s Legislative Agenda is monitored by the Premier’s Office to ensure that it moves forward with fortitude and determination.
To view the virtual public meeting held on August 27 about the The Virgin Islands Agriculture and Fisheries Marketing Authority Bill visit the Government’s Facebook page @BVIGovernment or click link:
To read the full Speech from the Throne – “Driving BVI Innovation through Legislation” click here: https://bvi.gov.vg/media-centre/speech-throne-driving-bvi-innovation-through-legislation