The Government of the Virgin Islands is informing the public that the annual Farmers’ Week celebrations are postponed until 2017.
Representatives from the Department of Agriculture met with local farmers from each of the islands and the decision came after hearing the concerns of the farming community, surrounding the negative effects of recent varying weather patterns on local crops.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering said, “I know that the public was eagerly anticipating Farmers’ Week this year, as it is a time when we are able to see firsthand the bountiful livestock and crops of the land. Regrettably, we are not having the celebrations; however, I can assure the public that the planning committee will use this period to put their ideas together to make Farmers’ Week 2017 a memorable and enjoyable one.”
Chief Agricultural Officer, Mr. Bevin Braithwaite said that 2015 rainfall records indicated the worst drought in the Caribbean in the past five years.
Mr. Braithwaite said, “According to the Department of Disaster Management, up until September 2015, Tortola and Virgin Gorda only had 7.25 and 10.26 inches compared to 20.81 and 19.99 inches respectively, during the same period in 2014. This extended drought severely affected crops and livestock production in the BVI. The loss of production meant that there would be no suitable exhibits at the February 2016 Farmers’ Week.”
The concept of Farmers’ Week began in 1992 to showcase agricultural produce and bragging rights bestowed on the farmers with the best looking produce and livestock. In the earlier years, Farmers’ Week attracted mainly, farmers and producers from other Caribbean islands to the annual exhibitions. The visits eventually materialized into trade between Tortola and the visiting islands’ delegates. Farmers’ Week celebration was particularly beneficial to the economy then since visitors stayed longer, travelled to more of the islands and essentially spent more money.
The objectives of the Farmers’ Week observations has evolved and includes: to create an awareness of the importance of agriculture; to encourage young entrepreneurship, artisan or husbandry in the industry; to showcase local produce, handicraft, preserve and livestock; to create an avenue for the introduction of new technologies for sustainable practices; and to provide general networking and information-sharing venues for interested persons and persons within the local farming community.