KINGSTON — This year's staging of the Kingston and St. Andrew Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show – ‘Agro Fest’, will feature a host of exciting new activities to entertain the entire family, including a Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) ‘Eat What We Grow’ cook off competition.
A canine display by Guardsman security company, health fair, farmers’ domino competition, police mounted troupe exhibition, small ruminants display and a farm queen competition, are other new features of the show, which will be held on Saturday, May 21 at the grounds of Jamaica College on Old Hope Road in St. Andrew.
Speaking at the launch at the JAS’ headquarters in Kingston last week, President of the Kingston and St. Andrew Association of Branch Societies, Senator Norman Grant, said that the annual show has been rebranded, with significant focus on food preparation and the consumption of local foods.
This, he said, is in keeping with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on Monday May 9 between the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the JAS to restructure and refocus the shows on their core function, which is to promote and enhance the agriculture sector.
Senator Grant said that under the MoU, the Agriculture Ministry has provided additional funding of $1 million, which will go towards the overall organisation of the event, to ensure that it is in keeping with “a general framework of quality and embracement of agriculture as the lifeblood of the Jamaican economy”.
“Also, in keeping with this support (we) will be able to give the JAS branches and farmers that participate, a more substantial prize money and we will also be able to (present) those prizes on the day of the show,” he said.
He further informed that the event will feature a more expansive farmers’ market, where fresh agricultural produce will be available for patrons. There will also be a presidential lounge, which on one side will accommodate the media.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Donovan Stanberry, stressed that the Government wants to move agricultural shows away from just being exhibitions to “events that people can relate to, that people can identify with a new thrust, a new move to feed ourselves”.
“It speaks to food sovereignty, which is tantamount to national sovereignty…we want for these shows to be a rallying point where people can be proud of the achievement of the agricultural sector and see it as part and parcel of the entire effort to build food sufficiency and to improve rural life and rural development,” he stated.
Mr. Stanberry presented Senator Grant with the $1 million cheque towards the staging of the event during the function.
The 15th staging of ‘Agro Fest’ is being held under the theme: ‘Eat what we grow, grow what we eat’ and will feature more than 40 exhibitors ranging from agricultural to horticultural displays.
In addition to the new features, patrons will be able to enjoy regular attractions such as the farm queen and the champion farmer competitions and best JAS branch displays. There will also be gate prizes of weekend for two at Negril Tree Resort and day passes at any Sandals Resort in Jamaica.
The day’s activities will get underway at 8:00 a.m. and will continue to 8:00 p.m. The official tour of the grounds starts at 1:00 p.m., and the opening ceremony will begin at 2:00 p.m. Admission for adults is $400 and $100 for children under 12.
Major sponsors of the show are: Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited, which is contributing $300,000; Jamaica National Building Society, $200,000; while Independent Radio Company (Power 106 FM) and Kool 99 FM are each providing $150,000.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter