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Virgin Islands Has Long Agricultural History
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/CA01300919/00153
 Material Information
Title: Virgin Islands Has Long Agricultural History
Series Title: Olassee Davis articles
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publisher: Virgin Islands Daily News
Place of Publication: Charlotte Amalie
St. Thomas
US Virgin Islands
Publication Date: February 16, 1996
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Agriculture--Virgin Islands of the United States--History
Agriculture and Food Fair of the Virgin Islands
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: CA01300919:00153

Full Text
20 The Daily News, Friday, February 16,1996


Environment


Virgin Islands has long agricultural history


This weekend, the people of the
Virgin Islands and other participat-
ing Caribbean islands will celebrate
25 years of the V.I. Agriculture and
Food Fair.
Historically, the agriculture fairs
were held during the 1930s and
1940s at the former Agriculture
Experiment Station at Estate
Anna's Hope on St Croix.
In May 1910, Mr. J. R. Bovell,
superintendent of agriculture in
Barbados, was invited by the gov-
ernment of the Danish Virgin
Islands to give expert advice about
forming an agriculture department
and to report on the prevailing dis-
eases of sugar cane and cotton. As a
result of Bovell's visit, the Agricul-
ture Department on St. Croix was
inaugurated.
Longfield Smith, lecturer in nat-
ural and agricultural sciences with
the Barbados Agriculture Depart-
ment, was appointed its director in
December 1910.
Thus the birth of modern agri-
culture research was born in the
Virgin Islands. Estate Anna's Hope
Agricultural Experiment Station
was the perfect site for the birth of
Virgin Islands agriculture fairs. In
those days, the agriculture fair was
called an agricultural field day and
attracted thousands of people.
At that time, many small farms
dotted St. Croix. Roughly speaking,
more than 400 family farms pro-


Olasee
Davis
Our
amWroment


duced all kind of native fruits, veg-
etables and ground provisions. In
addition, large farms raised large
and small livestock such as sheep,
cattle, goats, swine and poultry.
Like today's agriculture and
food fair, the farmers of those days
looked forward to these field days
because they were the highlights of
the year and occasions when resi-
dents could get first-hand exposure
to what the farmers produced. St.
Croix has a rich agricultural history
that people, especially our children,
need to know.
Both visitors and residents often
ask why St. Croix has so many
sugar mills and greathouses. St.
Croix was called the breadbasket of
the Caribbean and the garden spot
of the Caribbean. This is Caribbean
agricultural black history.
Today the agriculture and food
fair is one way people are exposed
to what Virgin Islands farmers can
produce. The sad thing is that the
agriculture industry of the Virgin
Islands is a low priority when it
comes to the economic develop-


ment of these islands. Just as we
have an environmental heritage to
protect, so we need to encourage
agriculture.
All over St. Croix, we have ruins
of plantations, but how were they
structured? How did these planta-
tions get their names? There are so
many things I could tell you about
the history of agriculture in the Vir-
gin Islands, it would take me days,
weeks, probably months or years.
We have a rich heritage, and we do
not even market St. Croix agricul-
tural history as part of our tourist
destination.
For some reason, the agriculture
fairs were discontinued until 1971,
when they were established at the
Estate Lower Love Agriculture Sta-
tion. The first elected governor of
the Virgin Islands, Melvin H.
Evans. made the first statement
about the renewal of the agriculture
and food fair.
He stated: "Although the passing
years have dimmed the importance
of farming here, and the fields of
cultivated sugar cane have vanished
from the scene, the soil of our
native land is still a precious pos-
session."
Our second elected governor.
Cyril E. King, said. "Self-sufficien-
cy in food production is vital to the
future of all of the people of these
islands. Our over-reliance on
imported products, especially fresh


produce, creates a constant drain of
needed capital that could be divert-
ed into other areas as we attempt to
resolve the serious and pressing
problems we now face."
Former Gov. Juan Luis said, "A
new, revitalized partnership
between the public and privatesec-
tors is imperative if the Virgin
Islands is to realize its long-sought
goal of self-sufficiency."
Former Gov. Alexander A. Far-
relly said, "For agriculture to sur-
vive, it must be technologically
based, with an emphasis on sound
business procedures..."
Gov. Roy L. Schneider said,
"We must encourage the participa-
tion of our young people in the agri-
cultural process, thus increasing job
opportunities and growth in produc-
tion."
The theme of this year's fair -
"25 Years of Challenges, Changes
and Opportunities" is fitting
since our administration stated so
clearly, "A change is coming."
Believe me. if any industry
needs a change in these islands, it's
agriculture. Enjoy the fair. Virgin
Islanders.

Olasee Davis, who holds a mas-
ter of science degree in range man.
agement and forestry ecology, is a
St. Croix ecologist, activist and
writer.




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