Several changes are in the works to revitalise the agriculture and fisheries industries, according to Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley.
During the Tuesday House of Assembly sitting, Dr. Wheatley announced that Theodore James has been appointed director of agriculture and fisheries, while former acting director Tessa Smith-Claxton will move up to assistant secretary in the ministry.
Such policy support, the minister said, paved the way for him to engage with farmers and fishers on key issues including water conditions for the use of Crown land, regulation of crops and livestock, marketing of produce, and opportunities for investment in the sectors.
He also gave an update on plans for the upcoming 65th August Emancipation Festival, which he said are progressing well despite financial constraints.
Organisers, he said, are taking measures to raise additional revenue and centralise the administration of finances.
These celebrations, he said, will include a focus on local culture, including performances by VI artists, a traditional “market day” with local produce, a calypso competition, and a cultural food fair.
“This is not just a fete or a carnival. This is an ongoing tradition in which we recognise our ancestors’ successful struggle against the vicious institution of slavery,” he said. “We must praise God, dance, sing, eat, drink and be merry.”
Dr. Wheatley also gave an update on school repairs. Enis Adams Primary, he said, is 90 percent completed, with minor works including plumbing, electrical finishes and general cleanup to be finished within the next three weeks.
The school should be ready to receive students by the start of the 2019-2020 school year, he said.
He added that contractors for the Elmore Stoutt High School’s L-shaped building have completed about 55 percent of the necessary work.
Windows and doors have been ordered, with frames expected on island in two weeks and doors by the second week of August, he explained.
The manufacturing process for the windows, he added, is expected to be completed by the end of July.
Dr. Wheatley also said that resurfacing works for the Greenland and Purcell Estate basketball courts were completed in the allotted time specified in the contracts, and the Cappoons Bay basketball and volleyball courts are 90 percent completed.