Wednesday, 28 October – Government signed a $4,726,000 loan agreement with Deutsche Bank today to facilitate construction and design works for the establishment of six greenhouses in the Territory, three at Paraquita Bay on Tortola and the other three at South Sound on Virgin Gorda.

The agreement was signed on the condition that the Government will repay the funds over a period of five years by 40 quarterly instalments and at the London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR) plus two point five percent (2.5%) per annum being approximately three point five two percent (3.52%).

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture embarked on the Greenhouse Development Project as a step towards establishing greater food security within the Territory.  This initiative is expected to increase the production of ‘short crops’ and serve as a training facility for present and potential farmers.

At the signing ceremony Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal OBE reiterated his Government’s commitment to food security in the Virgin Islands and expressed how grateful he was that Government was able to reach this stage.

“We must pay more attention to climate change, to other energy sources, food security; we must pay attention to ways of producing more food,” he urged.

Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon. Omar Hodge announced that the greenhouses were recently shipped to the Territory. “Once they have been set up in the Territory, local farmers will be trained to operate the technology.  The greenhouse initiative presents a feasible means through which Government can pursue agriculture as a viable third economic pillar,” he added. “We spoke about the need to produce more and the greenhouses represent one way this could be done,” Honourable Hodge added.

Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith, who also chaired the ceremony, spoke of the seriousness that the greenhouses and other new methods represent and encouraged people to embrace this initiative and other technology.  “True to the application of the principles of Darwinism in the life cycle of nations, we must adapt to our changing environment, by adopting new methods and protocols, or run the very real risk of becoming extinct,” he added.

Representative of Deutsche Bank Mr. Joaquin Santodomingo was also on hand to deliver remarks in which he thanked the Government for using their services to finance the project and offered assistance in the future, especially in the areas of health and tourism.

It is Government’s vision that the agricultural and food production sector will be vibrant and developed to be a third pillar of the local economy, providing job and business opportunities, and food security on a sustainable basis.