Task Force to Unveil Territorial Agriculture Plan on Monday

The master plan to guide the territory’s agriculture industry into the future will be unveiled at a hybrid event from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday on all three islands.

A Farmers’ Market at the Department of Agriculture Fairgrounds on St. Croix shows a small sample of the variety of produce grown by USVI farmers. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

The Agricultural Plan Task Force, comprising farming, government, and University of the Virgin Islands officials, was charged with creating the plan under Act 8404, which became law on Dec. 11, 2020.

The plan contains policy and funding recommendations to support and expand the local food system, to increase locally grown food production, and to provide an avenue of food security in the territory, according to a press release announcing Monday’s unveiling. The agricultural plan contains short- and long-term goals, including proposals for legislative enactment, it said.

One of the most critical issues facing the territory is ensuring a sustainable food supply, the release noted. The plan was created to foster food security and sovereignty by maximizing agricultural productivity in the territory.

The plan was developed over a nine-month period with significant research and extensive input from the community, including four town halls; focus groups and surveys of farmers, food retailers, and the general public; commissioned studies; and expert consultations, the release stated. Additionally, three members of the farming community, chosen by fellow farmers, joined the task force last fall to provide their hands-on perspective and expertise.

“On behalf of all on the task force, it has been a privilege bringing the development of this plan to fruition. Expanding and supporting agriculture is vital to the territory, and we feel strongly that the plan provides an excellent framework for success,” said UVI President David Hall, co-leader of the task force. “We remain at the community’s service should we be called upon by the governor or Senate for further assistance.”

The public unveiling will highlight the recommendations of the task force outlined by the eight mandates of Act 8404. Farmers, stakeholders, and all members of the community are invited to join the event via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. AST at bit.ly/AgUNVEIL (link is case sensitive) or using meeting ID: 925 7308 2082. Registration is required.

There is also limited seating available for in-person participation on St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. Pre-registration and mask usage for those attending in person is required and will be strictly enforced. If interested, call 340-693-1003.

The locations for in-person attendance are:
• St. Croix: University of Virgin Islands, the Great Hall
• St. John: Cleone H. Creque Legislative Conference Room
• St. Thomas: University of Virgin Islands Administration & Conference Center

The members of the Agricultural Plan Task Force include Hall and his co-leader, Agriculture Commissioner Positive Nelson; Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Diana E. Collingwood; former Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Hannah V. Carty; UVI School of Business Dean Kendra Harris; UVI School of Agriculture Dean Usman Adamu; Island Green Living Association president Harith Wickrema; Dale Browne of Sejah Farms; Royce Creque of Greenridge Guavaberry Farms; and Nate Olive, director, Ridge to Reef Farms.

More information on the 2021 Agricultural Plan can be found online at doa.vi.gov/agplan. To share feedback about your ideas, email agplan@doa.vi.gov.