I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed AgroFest last Saturday. There was no rain on the day and the night before got rain so the grounds of Jamaica College were not dusty or too muddy either. It was more organized this year and had a lot more local vendors and organizations participating. It is hard to highlight booths as everyone showed great effort in their presentations and what they had to offer. However, some still managed to stand out above the rest.
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) had plants, honey and more.
A booth had a Tissue Culture display for Irish potatoes and Ginger.
Gavin Hill had the greatest variety of animals. He had a cursing Parrot, Turkey, Rabbits, Hamsters and Birds.
Other farmers from Kingston & St. Andrew had Goats, Sheep and Rabbits as well.
It was thus fitting to have NutraMix and Hi-Pro there, suppliers of animal feed.
Jamaica 4-H Clubs, who were celebrating their 75th anniversary had Fruits, Eggs and Vegetables for sale.
The College of Agriculture, Science and Education had an Aquaculture display, Jellies, Chutney, Sauces, Vegetables, you name it.
AG Chem Plant Ltd. had Pesticides and Fertilizers suitable for farming and other needs.
The Jamaica Dairy Development Board is back in full swing. They have been training 200 farmers the art and science of dairy cattle husbandry to make an increase in dairy production and make it sustainable by increasing the dairy cattle population.
They ensure Herd recording, Herd management decisions and genetic evaluations.
They have been supporting the improvememt of institutions such as CASE and Ebony Park HEART Acadamy and others.
T. Geddes Grant Distributors Ltd. had their booth showing that they are suppliers of total Agricultural requirements to farmers and gardeners. They supply Herbicides, Feed, Farming tools and more.
The Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division as well as the National Irrigation Commission Ltd. had lovely 3-D models.
The WUSC Caribbean’s PROPEL (Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages) were represented. Their Canadian Project ensures safe, effective and efficient movement of produce from the farm to high value markets such as hotels, restaurants etc. Crops supported in this project include Greenhouse vegetables, Onions, Ginger, Irish Potato, Sweet Yams and Sweet Potatoes.
The Cottage Farmers won Best Display Booth but Suga didn’t find them t o be that impressive. They are usually low in the standings so kudos to them for making a big improvement this year.
Jack’s Hill Community did not compete this year but the Burgesses, well known in the community had an AgroFest 20th Booth displaying Programmes of the Past, lots of pictures with vivid AgroFest memories, Liqueurs, Wines, Mrs B’s Honey, Jelly, Bammy, Rabbits and more.
I must also mention the unique fruits they had that persons did not have to buy but could come by and sample such as Black Sapote, Jaboticaba, Pink Grapefruit, Suriname and Caribbean Cherry and Clementine. Who knew Cherries could be spicy? Naseberries and Ripe Banana were also there. Other booths had fruits as well including Melons, Pineapples, Otaheite Apples and more.
Mr. Paul and Mrs. Veronica Burgess were recognised with plaques showing appreciation for 20 years of Support and Committed Partnership to the staging of AgroFest.
Jewellery, Pots, Clutch purses and Art booths were present as well. Certainly not a part of agriculture but definitely a part of Brand Jamaica, as the products were all locally made.
The winner of the Farm Queen Competition was announced too late, a bit after 7pm when it was quite dark surrounding the stage. AgroFest was advertised to be from 8am to 8pm. So they need to work on the lighting next year or finish all entertainmrnt within a certain time, because all the booths were pulled down by that time as well.
With that aside it was a lovely day. I enjoyed fresh coconut water, Jamaican food from Martin’s Jerk and Catering and my Guava slush. I also saw that the kids enjoyed the rides, bounce-a-bout, animals, clowns and balloons.
Most importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the Performance of the Breadfruit dance. How could you have AgroFest and not ‘do di dance’?!
AgroFest 2016 will be held this Saturday on the Jamaica College grounds from 8am to 8pm for its 20th staging. The entry cost is $500JMD for Adults and $100JMD for Children.
You should expect to see and/or buy some of the best Food crops and Livestock produced by our Local Farmers, specifically from Kingston and St. Andrew.
AgroFest is not only a Farmers’ Market though, it is a Family event that will have entertainment for everyone, food and drinks on sale and of course, kids should be able to pet some of the animals.
Entertainment will include the Police Mounted Troop Exhibition, Guardsman Canine Display and Competitions such as the JAS ‘Eat Jamaican’ Cook-Off Competition, Farm Queen Competition and more.
Also keep in mind that it is not only important to bring the kids for fun and games but to let them have a look around to develop an interest in our local agriculture, broadening awareness that it can be a considerable Career option for them in the future.
Agriculture consists of a variety of skilled areas to be considered other than being a Farmer. There is the Scientific option involving manufacturing and production of Fertilizers and Pesticides, as well as Hybridization (Merging crops/plants together to change in size, colour, shape etc.), Tissue Culturing (Multiplication of Plants) and more. There is the Manufacturing/Engineering option with Agro-Processing and Technology providing opportunities in constructing and/or engineering greenhouses and irrigation systems.
So come on out to AgroFest tomorrow! Help Jamaica to use our own products to become more independent.