The 2018-2019 Model State Program for the U.S. Virgin Islands will focus on three areas of educational priority that will advance agricultural sustainability in the Virgin Islands. These areas of priority are based on as on-going needs of all stakeholders, and the professional development activities will build upon the foundation of knowledge laid during the previous year.
During the (2017-2018) implementation period trainers participated in an introductory course on food safety and handling. There is need for on-going training on this topic as farmers strive to restore their businesses following the agricultural industry’s devastation by two hurricanes in September 2017. The food safety training proposed in this document will emphasize safety from the farmers’ market perspective.
During the previous year progress was also made regarding the use of the cooperative business model as a tool for economic development and sustainability. One of the planned activities, the Puerto Rico Cooperative Development Business Tour for the 2017 – 2018 period, was cancelled due to the impacts of recent hurricanes in our region. The USVI SARE team and our partners in Puerto Rico propose to reschedule this training.
The third area of the training program will focus on education regarding the identification of important insect pollinators and habitat management practices to enhance their population levels. This concern became more critical as a result of the major loss of vegetation for pollinators following the recent hurricanes. Ultimately, habitat loss will result in reduced insect populations, contributing to lower crop yields and negatively impact sustainability.
Project objectives from proposal:
In an effort to build upon previous training initiatives, the objectives for the 2018-2019 MSP proposal are to increase knowledge, awareness, and behavioral change in the following areas.
• Farmers’ Market Food Safety
• Pollinator Identification and Population Management
• Regional Network Capacity Building for Sustainability and Security
• The Cooperative Business Model