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HomeCommunityAgricultureUSDA Awards VIDA $2.7 Million Grant to Improve Local Agriculture Infrastructure

USDA Awards VIDA $2.7 Million Grant to Improve Local Agriculture Infrastructure

Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) has announced that the department has recently been awarded $2.7 million by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) American Marketing Service (AMS) Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Program to build two commercial kitchens in the territory and engage the underprivileged population in sustainable agricultural practices.

A public survey has also been released to receive input from the territory on how those funds should be allocated.

The department submitted a proposal to develop and administer coordinated initiatives to build resilience across the middle-of-the-food-supply-chain in the territory. With this award, the V.I. Department of Agriculture plans to build two industry-standard commercial community kitchens (one per district), provide technical training in local and federal food safety standards, and engage the community in value-added product development.

Beginning and existing farmers as well as value-added product developers and enthusiasts will benefit significantly from this initiative. The V.I. Department of Agriculture will also grant competitive subawards to support infrastructure development in the middle-of-the supply-chain.

VIDA’s Assistant Commissioner Diana E. Collingwood, who played an integral role in securing this grant, said, “This groundbreaking initiative would be instrumental in addressing the food security needs of our territory, as defined by the USVI Vision 2040 and the 2021 VI Agricultural Plan, by allowing us to aggregate, process, preserve, store, add value and better distribute agricultural products in the USVI food supply chain.”

Locally, 97% of the USVI’s food supply is imported, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Importation not only leaves the territory suspectable to shortages, but it impacts freshness, nutritional value and transportation costs. The V.I. Department of Agriculture’s overarching goal is to increase food security and the economic capacity of the local agriculture industry by extending the shelf life of local agriculture products.

Because local food security challenges impact the entire territory, the department is seeking input from the community on post-harvest food policy with a survey. The V.I. Department of Agriculture  value the community’s input and ensures that people’s concerns are being considered as the project continues.

All interested parties are invited to take the survey today to provide input on how the $2.7 million grant should be prioritized. The survey can be found on the V.I. Department of Agriculture website at www.doa.vi.gov.  The V.I. Department of Agriculture  will be accepting survey responses from Feb. 1-29. It thanks the community for its support and input, and looks forward to maximizing the territory-wide benefits of this initiative.

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