The Agriculture Department is distributing 4,000 pineapple plants throughout the Virgin Islands, as part of an effort to boost local fruit production. Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen explained, “Agriculture set up the Fruit Orchard and Fruit Plot Establishment Project with the goal of increasing the availability of fresh, locally grown fruits in the territory for two purposes: fresh consumption and for value-added purposes, like making jams and juices.”

The VI government is trying to encourage more fruit-growing in general in the territory through facilitating the establishment of more orchards not only for cultivating pineapples, but also mangoes, avocados, papaya, guava, guavaberry and passion fruit, among others. The program has clients on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.

Pineapples are easy to grow, widely used in the culture of the islands, and a small planting is very productive. Each plant can be used to create others. Pineapple has been grown in the Virgin Islands in the past, but on a small scale.

Once the tiny pineapple plants arrived in the territory, Agriculture grew them until they reached 8 to 10 inches tall, large enough to survive transplanting. They should bear fruit in 12-18 months. When the plants are producing, Agriculture will help farmers with marketing their crops.