Minister of Agriculture Dr Natalio Wheatley said the committee will support the Paraquita Bay farming community in the production of high-quality food through sustainable commercial agriculture.
“We envision that the estate will not only serve as a mecca for agricultural production, but our farmers will make strong linkages with our education and tourism sectors. It is our aim that Paraquita Bay will be the model for the orderly and efficient use of Crown lands for agriculture in the territory,” Dr Wheatley said.
The newly formed committee is expected to make recommendations for the level and types of agricultural production that will occur on the land. They will also review the existing allocation of lands and make recommendations for efficient use of agricultural lands to ensure greater levels of production.
The committee is tasked with making recommendations for the policy to govern the designated land. They will review applications for use of lands at Paraquita Bay for agricultural purposes, make recommendations to the minister; as well as make recommendations for educational and agricultural programmes that can provide optimal productivity on the estate.
The committee will be chaired by Dr Harlan Vanterpool who said he firmly believes food security is critical to national security.
“We must be able to feed ourselves. Therefore, I fully embrace the opportunity to work alongside the members of this committee to advance this cause,” Dr Vanterpool stated.
The other committee members are Kisha Frett, Alton Vanterpool, Oren Hodge, Kenrick Headley. The ex officio members are Permanent Secretary in the Agriculture, Carolyn Stoutt Igwe; Norval Young who is representing the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour; and Jeanelle Hodge who will serve as Secretary.
Paraquita Bay is the largest single area of Crown land used for agriculture in the territory to date. The Paraquita Bay Settlement Project was established in 1992 as part of a policy decision in 1988 to revive agriculture in the territory.