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Say What! The Shelves Are Bare!
Posted By: Ivan Butcher II on March 28, 2018

Too many times, I have said that when a hurricane or any major weather condition impacts the eastern coast of the United States, we here in the Virgin Islands will suffer food, supplies, material and equipment shortages.

This NorEaster, of March 2018, has caused shipping challenge delays, lost and damaged cargo, that will further hamper our recovery here in the Territory. The rippling effects of this weather system: businesses cannot tell when they can expect to receive their shipments, the backed-up schedules, the reordering of merchandise, the remanufacturing of products, the harvesting and packaging of produce, etc., and the supply and demand pricing reality.

Imagine here on St.Croix, we have lived for decades with that red mound of toxic waste, but we cannot chip and mulch our vegetation debris, and spreading it enriching caliche and other nutrient deficient areas.

Delaying the Agriculture Fair and rescheduling offers the committee the opportunity to develop a theme of preparation and mitigation, especially in the face of this year's hurricane season. The Fair should include a native tree drive, promoting and encouraging the community to donate, trade, buy and sell native trees and seeds. Hurricane preparedness, tree pruning, gardening and other mitigating workshops should be featured.

The Windsor Estate, a government owned Dept. of Agriculture property is a prime location like the Bethlehem Restoration project could serve as a centrally located Agri-Eco showcase with rotating and permanent venues, workshops and training, adding an attraction appeal.

Every year we have had a World-class agricultural fair that should be replicated with livestock, plots of crops, educational permanent and rotating exhibits at the Windsor Estate. For years, I have judged the student educational exhibits, some of these projects are economically sound. The winning projects should be rotating exhibits that could be reviewed during student field trips and visitors year round.

The one student project that stood out, which could have been developed, was an amusement park with rides, an agricultural theme with seats and carriages shaped like fruits and vegetables. During that same year the metalworks vocational students were recycling parts from old cars, lawn mowers, using fiberglass to create go-carts that they actually drove. This would be an excellent, profitable, educational collaborative effort, to invest in that could also become an export product, promoting agriculture.

We have to cultivate a new generation of farmers because most of our farmers here are nearing or are retiring. If this recent turn of events isn't "A Wake-Up Call" to the urgent need for an agriculture self-sufficiency planned operations, then we are doomed to "Chaos."

A Guinean proverb, " He who does not cultivate his field will die of hunger."

Ivan Butcher II
St. Croix
US Virgin Islands
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