KINGSTON — Parish committees are to be established to carry out the planning of the major agricultural shows as Government moves to restructure and rebrand the events staged across the island each year.
The committees will include the Custos of the relevant parishes, the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining the arrangement was signed yesterday between the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the JAS, at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in Kingston.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, explained that the JAS will continue to be the primary organiser of the shows. “It is not our intention to take that responsibility away from them, however there are other very critical partners, who we believe, acting together, would ensure that the shows are efficient, effective and enjoyable,” he said.
He noted that each committee will also include representatives from the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, the commodity boards, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), and the Ministries of Tourism, and Agriculture and Fisheries, which will participate in the planning leading up to the event and coordinate activities on show day.
Each parish committee will receive $1 million towards the staging of the Hague Agricultural Show in Trelawny; Montpelier Agricultural Fair in St. James; St. Mary Agricultural Show; Agro Fest in Kingston and St. Andrew; while the major event, Denbigh Agricultural Show in Clarendon, will continue to be supported with a sum of $5 million.
Minister Tufton pointed out that through the establishment of these committees, along with other measures, the Government seeks to “refocus these agricultural shows in a way that will get them back to their core function and hopefully, to stimulate, promote and enhance the sector."
He noted that over time, the core objectives of these shows have been diluted by other forms of activities, which are non-agricultural, and going forward, the non-agricultural components will be disallowed.
“Our agricultural, industrial and food shows are not a flea market for every and anything. It takes away from the emphasis we’re trying to promote,” Minister Tufton said.
He explained that through the MoU, the shows will be rebranded and promoted as agricultural, food and industrial shows, with substantial focus on food preparation and the consumption of local foods. The committee, working with JAS and RADA, will ensure that minimum standards are met in terms of the produce on display.
An important focus, he said, “will be on establishing an area where patrons are allowed to sample the best of Jamaica products, cooked using Jamaican inputs to promote the need to eat local and the various ways by which our local output can be prepared in order to entice the palate.”
The parish shows should take place under the distinct patronage of the Custodes of the parishes, who will play a more meaningful, activist role in the planning and organising of the shows.
In terms of the evening entertainment activities, these will be held at an earlier time and will be more family friendly and all-encompassing. There will also be a designated play or entertainment area for children.
Another improvement under the MoU is that prizes will be presented to winners at the show, which will eliminate lengthy delays or non receipt of prizes.
President of the JAS, Glendon Harris, said he welcomed the partnership “as this undoubtedly will lead to an enhanced thrust to encourage Jamaicans to support the sector, for more youths to play an integral role; and for all to consume more local foods."
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter