Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Self-Sufficiency

Encourage and support agricultural development to decrease dependence on external food imports and to become a territory producing sufficient food to cover its own needs.

Challenges

  • Staffing challenges at the Department: Critical staff shortages in the crucial areas of the Land Preparation division and Abattoir Services are an impediment to advancing progress at the department.
  • Adequate Funding: Since the Department of Agriculture (DOA) relies on the Department of Planning & Natural Resources for surveying existing plots for distribution to potential farmers, DOA cannot sufficiently meet funding needs. This impedes the length of time it takes to finalize lease agreements with the Department of Agriculture and potential farmers.
  • Inadequate water distribution systems: Alternative irrigation systems have not been fully developed and irrigation remains an ongoing problem for some farmers.

Solutions

  • Expand agro-tourism initiatives. Promote alternative agriculture enterprises. The annual agricultural fair has grown and can be expanded.
  • Work with local farmers, fisheries and livestock, investors and other key stakeholders to provide assistance and opportunities to evaluate production impediments, seek alternative enterprise solutions, build capacity, and improve agricultural practices and quality production standards as a whole.
  • Collaborate with the Department to advance the implementation and completion of the Farmland Infrastructure Improvement Program (FIIP).
  • Ensure that Abattoirs on St. Croix and St. Thomas have been rebuilt to meet federal health and safety standards.
  • Work with the EDC to re-examine, increase and expand agricultural incentives and benefits for livestock, aquaculture and fisheries development.
  • Promote collaborative research and extension outreach programs for sustainable production practices that are appropriate to meet the needs and interests of local producers.
  • Collaborate with farmers and Department of Education personnel to expand the ‘farm- to-schools’ program to meet capacity in storage of large volumes of products by increasing funding.
  • Increase marketing staff at the VI Department of Agriculture to expand opportunities for marketing products, increasing the variety of products and hiring the necessary staff to do so.
    Encourage EDC hotel companies to buy locally sourced crops, livestock, and fishery.

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