The economic turmoil being experienced by countries worldwide, has made the issue of food security top priority for their governments.
It is widely accepted that countries which are not totally dependent on imports to feed their population will be in a better position to emerge more speedily from the economic recession.
With this in mind, the Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, has embarked on a number of initiatives to better equip and prepare farmers across the island to improve their approach to the business of farming, and also their production levels. The objective is to achieve some level of food security.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Christopher Tufton (right), lifts a large piece of yam on display at the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show, in St. James, in 2009.
To get the message across to the population to eat locally grown produce; to encourage more young persons to get involved in agriculture; and to highlight the work of farmers, the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) stages several agricultural shows annually at venues across the island, supported by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), an agency of the Ministry; and private sector organisations.
One such event is the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show, which is staged in Montpelier, St. James, on Easter Monday each year. The 2010 show will be staged on Monday, April 5.
“The purpose of the show is really to showcase the farmers’ work and worth within the parish of St. James and by extension the western region,” says President of the JAS, Mr. Glendon Harris, in an interview with JIS News.
He explains that the show has taken on a regional flavour. “We have St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, and Trelawny joining with us in St. James. The RADA booth depicts that, the 4-H booth depicts that, and we have guest branches from the different parishes staging displays,” he adds.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Christopher Tufton (right), viewing some of the produce on display at the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show, in St. James, in 2009.
Mr. Harris points out that the exhibits at the show usually cover every aspect of agriculture, from seed to food production, agro-processing, livestock care and production, harvesting and post harvesting, marketing, the scientific aspects of agriculture, agricultural mechanical equipment, among others. He says this is done to show that Jamaica has moved away from the old ‘machete and fork” type of agriculture into modern, mechanised, and scientific agricultural production.
According to the President, the 2010 show should be the biggest and best ever staged, as it has now become a household name in western Jamaica. He says that patrons should expect a show with a family atmosphere, offering good locally produced foods at excellent prices, an opportunity to learn about the latest in agricultural developments, and good clean entertainment to culminate the day’s activities.
Meanwhile, St. James farmer, Mr. Antonio Brown, tells JIS News that he looks forward to the show each year, as he assists his branch society with products to stage its exhibition. He says that the competition between the branch societies to see which one is judged the branch with the best exhibition, is always very keen.
Several members of the public who were questioned as to what they would be doing over the Easter weekend mentioned the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show as one of the events they will be attending.
Mr. Harris tells JIS News that some 63 display booths, with a wide variety of agricultural offerings, will be in place at this year’s show.
“We are working hard to ensure that the 2010 Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial show is an event to attend; it’s a family fun day, it’s a learning day, it is a liming day and we are going to make it a relaxing day,” the President says.
Mr. Harris informs that other shows are held at Denbigh, in Clarendon, in August; at Hague, in Trelawny on Ash Wednesday each year, and at the Annotto Bay Sports Club, in St. Mary, over the Easter week-end.