Deputy Premier and Minster for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering has outlined the strategies for the completion and administration of the Greenhouse Project in the Virgin Islands.
At a recent press briefing the Deputy Premier said that on November 6, he led a team of officials to Miami and held meetings with the IBT Group, the owners of the Intellectual property of the greenhouses. Members of the team included Permanent Secretary, Ronald Smith-Berkeley, Financial Secretary, Neil Smith and Maya Barry of the Attorney General’s Chambers.
“We discussed where we are with the greenhouses and what Government is proposing to do here on, out. This was one of the final hurdles that we had to overcome in order to be in a position to say that without any doubt that the Greenhouse project is moving forward,” Minister Pickering said.
The Deputy Premier noted that there were a number of outstanding issues that had to be resolved and an agreement had to be reached. These, he said included a confirmation of government’s intention to pay $1.26 million owed to the IBT Group.
Minister Pickering outlined that there are three greenhouses made up of seven entities and it has been agreed that IBT will complete all the greenhouses.
“All of the greenhouses will be fully operational by the time this process is complete. We will then negotiate for them to operate one of the greenhouses, (which is one-third of the greenhouses) and this we will use, from the Government’s point, as a laboratory.” The Minister explained. He said that the H. L. Stoutt Community College, the Virgin Islands Technical Vocational School and other local persons who are interested in the technology of the greenhouses will be invited to be involved.
The Deputy Premier went on to state that these types of institutions and interested persons involved with the skills-transfer are necessary to be able to make greenhouse technology in the BVI functional. He said that the second, one-third, is intended to be leased to private entities, and two local entities that have indicated their interest.
The other one-third, the Minister said, will be leased to local farmers. “Understand that we have seven entities with a significant amount of square footage under it. So that we expect a large number of local individuals who are interested in greenhouses would be able to lease space there,” he outlined. Dr. Pickering further stated that with the skills-transfer from IBT these individuals will be up to date with the technology that will enable them to produce food, flowers or whatever they want to produce.
The Deputy Premier also noted in the briefing that the agreements made allowed for Government to focus only on the greenhouses in Tortola at this time, and that the completion of the Greenhouses in Virgin Gorda will be done at a later date.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour endeavours to effectively manage and administer the Territory’s natural resources in a manner that ensures long-term sustainability.