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The Export Division of the Ministry of Agriculture held its first annual awards dinner last night (Dec.15) with 12 members of staff honoured for long and dedicated service totalling more than 300 years.Rising to thunderous applause was longest serving member Vernal Rodgers, who had notched 42 years of unbroken service.
Other staff awarded for dedicated employment that spanned between 20 to 29 years, included Patrick Wong, Christopher Pinnock, Prince Lewis, Maysie Clarke, Gilbert Currie, Winston Hyatt, Ursella March, Dawnette Jack, Janet Gayle, Fermin Francis, and Lindo Gordon.
Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke, who was the guest speaker at the function held at the Hotel Four Seasons, said he was “justly proud” of the work being done by the staff of the Division and the recognition being paid to them was long overdue.
“It is appropriate that we give people the flowers when they can appreciate it than giving it to them after they die,” he said, adding that, “sometimes the things we say about them, they don’t hear or know that they were so recognised, so it is important that we tell you now.”
Turning to problems facing the agricultural sector, particularly the shortage of vegetables in the market followed by a period of glut, Mr. Clarke said the Ministry was in the process of implementing irrigation systems, which would enable farmers to plant in a structured manner.
He explained that the sporadic glut that was sometimes experienced by the market was as a result of farmers planting their crops at the same time. Turning to marketing, the Minister said that information technology could be utilised to handle the marketing challenges facing the agricultural sector.
“What we want to do to deal with the marketing problems,” he proposed,”is to put a system in place that every time you put something in the ground, information is there to somebody to suggest that something is in the ground and will come in a particular point in time”.
“It cannot be that a farmer gets up after reading his McDonalds [agricultural chart], goes out and plants, and nobody knows, until when it is coming in,” he added.
The Agriculture Minister explained that the implementation of such a system would be a boon to farmers and the information flow would extend to the export sector, hotel industry, and supermarkets.