Each year, the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in May Pen, provides an opportunity for Jamaicans and overseas visitors to view local produce on display. Their Excellencies the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen and the Most Honourable Lady Allen headed the list of dignitaries who visited Denbigh on August 5, 2013.
Clad in casual wear complete with big brown-coloured straw hats, Their Excellencies, invited guests and members of staff at the Office of the Governor-General strolled through the booths and parish ‘villages’, examining the wide array of local produce sowed and reaped by farmers across the island. Some demonstrated their farmers’ ingenuity with different farming methods; others had mock representations of the newest projects to be implemented by the Government, for example the Agro Parks that are to be built in selected parishes to enhance agricultural production.
With food security being one of the key focus areas of this year’s show, it was only natural to see by-products properly packaged and ready for purchasing and distribution, should the need arise. Among them were baked goods, sauces, seasonings and an array of other products that indicated the progress that the JAS has made over the years.
“Grow What We Eat…Eat What We Grow” has long been the JAS’ campaign as it advocates for Jamaicans to purchase local produce. One of their missions, as reiterated by Senator Norman Grant during the tour, was to advance the farming sector and to make Jamaican products more visible and competitive on the global market.
After a long but insightful tour, His Excellency The Governor-General said that now more than ever, he was convinced of the critical importance of the agricultural sector to the nation’s growth and development.
“Jamaicans who take the time to be a part of the Denbigh experience this year, will at the end of the day, be convinced that growing what we eat and eating what we grow is not a far-fetched idea. On the contrary, it is the path down which all of us must travel to reduce the nation’s external food bill”, said Sir Patrick Allen. He insisted that the survival of the sector rested in the hands of young farmers, and encouraged the society to make farming more attractive and appealing to young people.
In addressing the issue of praedial larceny, the Governor-General called on businesses and other large-scale purchasers of Jamaican agricultural products not to purchase from vendors who could not claim or show full ownership of the produce.
Near the close of the ceremony, Governor-General Sir Patrick had the opportunity to present ecstatic youth from the parish of Portland with the 4H Club Parish Championship trophy. They copped the majority of the sectional prizes. Mr. Lester Murray emerged as the Champion Farmer for 2013, even though he farms under adverse conditions, one of them being the lack of running water to properly meet the daily needs of his farm. The trophy was presented to him by The Governor-General.
The Hon. William Shagoury, Custos Rotulorum for the parish of Clarendon; Dr. Louis Peterson, Commissioner Department of Agriculture, US Virgin Island and Mr Royston Johnson were among those present at Denbigh 2013.