By Monique Washington
The 23rd staging of the Department of Agriculture Open Day is anticipated to be the “best ever”. According to the Permanent Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Eric Evelyn, there will be increased time, participation and entertainment. Farmers, Agro Processors, Ornamental plant suppliers, the Agro Processing Center and Livestock owners will all be out in their numbers for Open Day.
This year’s patron is Tizena Brookes, a field worker at the Department for about 30 years. This year, the Agriculture Open Day will be held under the theme ‘Embracing Climate Smart Agriculture to Achieve Greater Food Security’. This event is slated for March 30, 2017 and March 31, 2017 at the Charlestown Villa grounds. The official opening will be on Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. There will be an entrance fee of XCD $2.00 while school children are free.
Upon speaking with Nevispages on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, Permanent Secretary Evelyn clarified the significance of the theme chosen for this year. He stated, for the past few years the public has been hearing a lot about climate change. He went on to confirm that climate change has indeed been affecting Nevis and has especially been affecting the farming community and the public in a negative way. Continuing, he noted that the Department of Agriculture wishes for farmers and back yard gardeners to adopt practices that mitigate against climate change. He then proceeded to state that some of the practices that are used to mitigate against climate change is called climate smart. That is why we are focusing on climate smart agriculture as our theme for Open Day this year,” he said.
Evelyn stated that this year’s increase in live entertainment will be acknowledged in the form of two bands, the Ultimate Band on Thursday evening and the Odisi Band on Friday evening. The event’s time will be extended to 10:00 p.m. on Thursday and until about midnight on Friday.
He informed that the Department has been receiving “increased request for participation at the Open Day and what we are also realizing this year, apart from more persons and institution wanting to take part in the Open Day we have a number of persons and institution that are requesting additional space”
Permanent Secretary Evelyn revealed a number of competitions that will be reappearing this year for the event. He informed Nevispages that there will once again be a competition amongst the booth owners. The competition is opened to those who have vegetable booths, agro processed products and to the ornamental plant booths. Permanent Secretary Evelyn stated that they are trying to get the booths owners to have creative ways of presenting and decorating their booths so that they may look appealing. He continued by saying that when the booth looks appealing, it may generate extra sales to the owner and will also bring more revenue.
“We do not want persons to just go through the motion and have the same style every year. We want persons to be different and we also want creativity as part of the Open Day. That is why we have that competition.” Evelyn said.
In addition to the booth competition Evelyn informed Nevispages of an in house competition amongst the different divisions of the Departments which is sponsored by the Chief Extension Officer, Walcott James. The winner this year will receive XCD $500.00.
He said that there will be the anticipated raffle of a pig, a bull or a heifer. The abattoir will be on hand with their local meat product as well as new items that will be introduced and an expected dominion competition.
“We are just improving on what we have and I anticipate it will be the best ever” he concluded.