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Senators Hear of Strategic Agriculture Plan

Sen. Carla Joseph chaired the Committee on Government Operations and Consumer Protection Wednesday. (Photos by Barry Leerdam and Alvin Burke Jr. Legislature of the Virgin Islands.)

Sen. Carla Joseph, chairwoman of the Committee on Government Operations and Consumer Protection, said Wednesday a resolution honoring the Agriculture and Food Fair Board of Directors, the University of the Virgin Islands, and the Department of Agriculture for 50 years in promoting and hosting the Agriculture and Food Fair, was a “no-brainer.” She said the senators understand the importance of agriculture, and “we all here are supportive of agriculture.”

Sen. Alma Francis Heyliger, whose husband is a farmer, said although this legislation was important the Senate needed to put “money where its mouth is.”

Senators might have the chance to do that starting next month. In his testimony, David Hall, president of UVI, said a comprehensive plan to increase agriculture production and food security for the territory would be made public on May 10. He is a member of the task force created by the Senate to create the report.

Sen. Marvin Blyden said he was looking forward to seeing the plan and determining what the Senate could do to help. Hall said he looked forward to “engaging with the senators concerning the plan to make the future brighter.”

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Diana Collingwood, the assistant commissioner, presented the Agriculture Department testimony at the hearing. She said, “Agrifest pays homage to the rich agricultural roots of V.I. history and culture via its display of locally grown agricultural products, livestock, arts and crafts, music, value-added products, and local cuisine.”

She added that this year’s event would be on May 28, 29, and 30, Memorial Day weekend at the Rudolph E. Schulterbrandt Agriculture Complex. Its theme is “Agriculture 2022: A Golden Opportunity to Grow.”

Hall testified, “The Agriculture Fair, like this resolution, brings attention to an industry that is critical and essential to our lives.”

About the strategic plan, he said, “The university is also proud to have played a role in the development of the recent Agriculture Plan Report which will be revealed to the public on May 10th, and we hope will be taken up by the Senate shortly thereafter for implementation. I was honored to serve as co-chair of the Task Force along with Agriculture Commissioner Positive Nelson and to have the Dean of our School of Business, Dr. Kendra Harris, and the Dean of the School of Agriculture Dr. Usman Adamu serve with me. This plan is a comprehensive strategy for increasing agriculture production in the Virgin Islands and moving closer to food security and food sovereignty.”

Committee members attending the meeting were Sens. Marvin Blyden, Alma Francis Heyliger, Javan James, and Franklin Johnson. Absent were Sens. Novelle Francis. Jr., and Milton Potter.

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