by Donella Hosten
The Ministry of Agriculture hosted its first ever AgriBusiness Expo, which commenced on Thursday, 28 September and concluded on Sunday, 1 October at the Trade Centre.
The 4-day Expo was held under the theme: ‘Agri Business: Generating Wealth, Wellness and Employment,’ which according to Minister for Agriculture, Hon Yolande Bain-Horsford, is quite fitting, as “the Ministry of Agriculture is convinced that there is immense potential in the agri group sector, creating sustainable livelihood, and wealth as well as tremendous employment opportunities.”
The minister, in her feature address at the opening ceremony on Thursday afternoon, appealed to the public to continue to support the local farmers and eat locally grown foods. This she said, will aid with the reduction of the non-communicable diseases which are plaguing a lot of persons. She reminded them that agriculture is important to the economy and the government has and will continue to recognise and support this sector. “Agriculture remains the lifeblood of the rural economy… it must be given greater recognition.”
Also addressing the opening ceremony was, former MP for South St George, Alexandra Otway-Noel. She spoke briefly on the theme of the expo, saying that it was a ‘fitting description of what this government believes is the catalyst role of the agriculture sector.’ She congratulated the minister and the ministry for this excellent initiative.
This expo, according to the coordinator Lauren St Louis, is the first of its kind since the 1969 event organised by Sir Eric Matthew Gairy in True Blue. She used the opportunity to share some of the planned activities for the 4 days: Career Day on Friday, Family Day on Saturday and Food Fest and Concert on Sunday.
St Louis stated that the cost to organise such a massive expo was $250,000. She added that this initiative was highly supported by the government, and due to the high costs, the ministry is hoping to host the event biannually.
A number of persons, groups and organisations were also awarded for their contribution to different sub sections of agriculture, including Bee Keeping, Fishing, Farming and Climate Smart Agriculture strategies. The expo saw over 150 exhibitors, displaying local fruits and vegetables, chocolates, rums, teas, coffees, flowers, arts and crafts.