By:St. Clair Sazam Hull
(CHARLESTOWN NEVIS)-Under its theme, ‘Adapting to Climate Change to Achieve Greater Food Security’, the Department of Agriculture on Nevis conducted the opening ceremony for its annual two- day Open Day ceremony on the morning of Thursday, March 17 2016 at the Charlestown Secondary School Grounds.
The event was held under the esteemed patronage of Church Ground resident Ms. Dulcina ‘Molly’ Brookes.
The ceremony began with the National Anthem which was followed by the invocation by Pastor Wayne Maynard.
Mr. Eric Evelyn, who currently serves as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, gave the opening remarks. He pointed out, that he ought to give the highest commendation to the staffs at the departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives, for once again delivering and doing so in a huge way. Evelyn indicated that the volume of work that is involved in planning and executing an event of such magnitude is no easy task. Evelyn stated that in hosting such an event they have always strive to satisfy everyone’s taste and over the years they have been successful. He encouraged the general public to show appreciation to the Department.
Evelyn further told those in attendance, that since his Ministry continues to place considerable emphasis on food security, the Department of Agriculture must face climate change head on and devise strategies in order to combat its effects. Evelyn noted that the island has experienced longer dry spells, dry seasons, more intense storms, higher than normal temperatures, more diseases from pests among other elements. In conclusion, Evelyn urged everyone to take advantage of the education, entertainment and excitement that the event has to offer.
Director of Agriculture, Mr. Keithley Amory also gave some brief remarks. He stated that it was extremely pleasurable to be a part of such an important event that is held on a yearly basis. Amory pointed out that he believed that the patron who has given and continues to give service to the Department of Agriculture since 1963 would have seen various changes that agricultural production would have gone though over the years. He indicated that many of those changes have been attributed to the normal climate pattern and they have been constantly adapting to them in order to maximize agricultural production.
The Director stated that over the years they have stressed the need to increase food production be it crops, livestock or fishing. He said that Nevisians need to eat more of what is produced locally.
Premier of Nevis, Hon Vance Amory distributed some remarks. He told the gathering that based on what he observed when he arrived at the event, he knew for a fact that the ministry is doing a great job and they should be lauded for their efforts. He also apologized for the absence of Hon. Alexis Jeffers, who is responsible for the Ministry of Agriculture. Amory stated that Mr. Jeffers has a keen interest in agriculture and is very committed to its development. He pointed out, that twenty- two years ago when they decided that they should re-focus their attention to the agricultural sector, they began with a very small exhibition. He said that a number of our citizens, with the expertise and interest have contributed to the growth of the sector over the years.
A profile of the patron was read by Mr. Eric Evelyn. He noted, that Ms. Brookes took up employment with the department in 1963 and has thus far given 53 years of unwavering service. He pointed out, that over the years her job entailed planting, weeding and picking cotton. He indicated that the patron has never complained of the work being too hard, or the sun being too hot. Evelyn stated that Brookes is a very humble individual, who does not say much and only talk if it is necessary to do so.
He said usually when a group of women congregate or work together, there is always something to talk about but Ms. Brookes is usually on the quiet side no matter what the conversation is about. He told the gathering that despite her tough upbringing, she was able to weather many a storms and raised eleven children. He indicated, that at times she played the roles of both mother and father as the fathers were sometimes nowhere to be found. In conclusion, Mr. Evelyn told the patron that her work at the department is kindly appreciated and he trusted and hoped that she will be around for many more years to come.
Awards were distributed to employers at the department.
The vote of thanks was given by Chief Extension Officer, Mr. Walcott James.