With one meeting down and another around the corner the members of the newly formed Farmers Co-op of the British Virgin Islands are optimistic about the possibilities the organization will bring positive agricultural development in the Territory.
Founder and President of the organization, Roy Penn in an interview with The Island Sun newspaper on Monday said that the Farmer’s Co-op was formed as support to the push to build on food security in the Territory: “It brings all Farmers, Fishermen and Ranchers under one umbrella to help each other by bringing together ideas, strategies, and know how. By sharing and binding together we become a self-sufficient body that will further protect the uniqueness that is the BVI,” Penn said.
The organization currently has approximately 23 members, and Penn said that persons are continuing to register with the Co-op.
It was explained that greenhouse technology which is something that has been pushed at the Government level is being promoted by the Co-op. “We are implementing the mini greenhouse program for any member who has a place to erect one. In order to get into the Mini greenhouse program you must be a farmer and a member of the Co-op,” he said.
On 15 September the first meeting of the Co-op was held and a total of 36 persons turned up to learn more about the organization. “Many of them signed up to become members and also many wanting to get into the mini greenhouse program were in attendance,” he explained.
Nonetheless, he announced that the membership drive actively continues, “We welcome any BV Islander Farmer, Rancher and Fisherman that has ideas and know how. We want to hear from them. We intend to organize into a legally recognized body and to push this body from the bottom by commanding our rightful place,” he announced.
Penn said that the main goal of the Co-op is to ensure that quality of locally produced agricultural products are regularly available on supermarkets shelves: “We will produce a better end product than what is presently available in the grocery stores.”
“We want to get the Fisheries back on its feet and operating without depending on being subsidised by Government. We believe this is essential and a must. We have a plan and we will present it to the leadership with whom we are working with in concert. This sector can, will and must stand on its own two feet and we have a plan on how we would like to accomplish just that,” he explained.
As it relates to the future of agriculture, Penn optimistically stated that the local farmers can solve the food security problems: “We can solve the problem of providing a place for our farmers to showcase and sell their locally produced crops all in a single and centralized location. The future looks bright and a much better days are just ahead for the British Virgin Islands. The Farmers Co-op is one of the driving forces that will get us there.”