Senator DeGazon supports creating a plant tissue culture lab in the Virgin Islands
After traveling to Tobago to attend the 33rd West Indies Agricultural Economics Conference, Sen. Allison DeGazon believes a plant tissue culture lab will be a beneficial facility for the improvement of agriculture and the economy in the Virgin Islands.
According to DeGazon, a plant tissue culture lab uses the tissue of donor plants—which are placed into a medium that causes the plants to multiply quickly—to increase food production numbers.
“It takes the sprouts out immediately and creates an environment for it to grow. You don’t need to wait for seeds. One plant can immediately become 100 to 300 plants,” DeGazon said, noting that it is not cloning, or the genetically modified process.
DeGazon believes it can be done in the territory through aggressive grant funding and technical partnerships between Caribbean islands and the Dept. of Agriculture; and the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperate Extension Services can establish and partner on such a project.
During her trip, DeGazon also met with leaders in agriculture and is planning to bring a Caribbean technical summit to the territory.
Her trip has provided her with enough information to create solid economical development legislation for the improvement of agriculture to impact the Virgin Islands economy. Some of those include import and export policies to increase production, improve agriculture data collection to join Caribbean export agreements, have value added products tested for world-wide distribution, join regional cooperatives to enhance small farm practices, stronger programs out of UVI for agriculture and economics and strengthen the farm to school program.
“I’m excited with the opportunity and I’m ready to return home and implement,” DeGazon said.
DeGazon believes the Virgin Islands cannot improve agriculture from working alone and must adopt a regional approach.
“We are behind in technology and need to change our entire agriculture model. We must create specific mandates, consistency and move to achieve them,” She said, but added that the Virgin Islands should take advantage of the areas it is leading in. “We were leading in aquaponics and hydroponics research in UVI. It’s capacity building like that that will increase food production and strengthen the economy.