Information Officer II
Department of Information and Public Relations (GIS)
Government officials from the Premier’s Office and the Department of Agriculture attended the 51st Annual Agricultural and Food Fair of the US Virgin Islands in St Croix last weekend.
Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs. Carolyn Stoutt Igwe whose portfolio includes agriculture, stated that partnerships with regional and international partners, enhancing data collection processes, making data-driven investments, and implementing structured farm programmes will aid in improving the agriculture sector in the Virgin Islands.
“Participating in this Food Fair is in direct alignment with the Government’s legislative agenda to promote the consumption and production of local foods,” Mrs. Stoutt Igwe said.
The Permanent Secretary added that the Government of the Virgin Islands’ attendance at this event was indicative of the strong ongoing partnership between the VI and the USVI, reflective of the shared bond, history and culture of Virgin Islanders from both territories.
Mrs. Stoutt Igwe also stated that the Department of Agriculture’s mandate involves advancing the interests of local farmers that can be facilitated through collaborative efforts. She added that the support and solidarity between the two territories will foster greater collaboration in the interest of promoting agriculture.
“The three-day cultural exchange served as a capacity building opportunity for the Government of the Virgin Islands in the area of food security, networking in the agricultural sector, capitalising on natural resources, and overall agricultural development. It will also be useful in the planning of the upcoming BVI Fishers and Farmers Week,” the PS said.
Meanwhile, Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Theodore James, described the USVI’s Agrifest 2023 as inspirational, particularly ahead of the Territory’s Farmers and Fishers Week 2023 to be held March 17 to 23 on each of the four main islands.
Mr. James said, “The USVI Agrifest 2023 was a spectacular display of agriculture, food and culture. I congratulate our neighbours, family and friends in the USVI for organising such a successful event. As we revive and rebrand our celebration of food and culture through Farmers’ and Fishers’ Week in the Virgin Islands, USVI Agrifest was truly inspirational.”
Head of the Government of the Virgin Islands’ delegation, Dr. Lavon Chalwell-Brewley, who is the desk officer for agriculture expressed her gratitude to Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Agriculture USVI Mrs. Riise Richards for extending an invitation to the Territory to attend the event, which is traditionally attended by the Virgin Islands.
In addition to the food and agricultural fair component, cultural demonstrations and exhibits were provided by local dance groups, artists, and bands. There was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase locally created art and jewelry.
The delegation included Assistant Secretary (Protocol Officer) in the Premier's Office Dr. Lavon Chalwell-Brewley, Director of the Department of Fisheries and Agriculture Mr. Theodore E. James, Agriculture Officer Mr. Orville Clarke and Assistant Secretary in the Premier's Office and desk officer for Agriculture and Fisheries, Mrs. Tessa Smith- Claxton.
The Agrifest event is the largest “country fair” in the Caribbean and featured farmers, a variety of vendors’ booths, displays of local cuisine and condiments like jam and jellies made from local fruits; spices, livestock, and plants. The event took place at the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex in Estate Lower Love between February 18 and February 20.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries continues to strive towards responsible management of resources to maintain a conducive environment in which the fishing and agriculture sectors can thrive.