The Agriculture Minister said he will meet with his Permanent Secretary as well as the Agriculture & Fisheries Assistant Secretary, Tessa Smith-Claxton; and the Director of Fisheries Theodore James to go through all the recommendations and comments made by the various stakeholders.
Dr Wheatley added that he will engage in discussions with the Attorney General’s chambers so the amendments to the legislation would be ready for legislators to examine once the House of Assembly resumes.
One key amendment is to create a government statutory body for the local agriculture industry.
“I must say in terms of executing what is in the legislation, it’s a matter, of course, of the legislative changes that need to be implemented. They are quite significant when you talk about changing from a department to a statutory body. Certainly, we have persons who are very experienced in that process and several other institutions which include the Health Services Authority which was made statutory some years ago. So, we have that experience that we can draw on,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Dr Wheatley also warned the public that plans like these take time and are usually done in phases. Therefore, he said people should be patient as his ministry tries to combat food insecurity in the territory through proper legislation.
“It is important to know we already started. For instance, we have plans drawn for the Agriculture and Fisheries complex at Paraquita Bay and very soon we are moving forward with procurement for that. Also, we have plans being drawn for the landing sites,” Dr Wheatley said.
“We are already making move to improve the water production and implement a water policy as I said before, we have a sustainable form of financing and we are again continuing with the agricultural and fisheries exposition as it was stopped for many, many years even before hurricanes Irma and Maria,” he added.
The minister said the expo was restarted because his team found it important to encourage farmers and fisherfolks to continue applying their trade for the betterment of the territory. He said it was done to influence the public to support farmers and fisherfolks as they continue to provide healthy food for the Virgin Islands.
Dr Wheatley also said the Agriculture and Fisheries substation in Virgin Gorda will be launched soon.