Senior Minister with responsibility for Agriculture, Dr. Timothy Harris, made these comments during an exclusive interview with MiyVue.com concerning the Agriculture Department’s Open Day which is scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday of this week (28th – 29th April).
He said the occasion – which comes about but once per year – is important on many levels and provides benefits for all stakeholders including members of the public. He explained that many times, what transpires at the Department of Agriculture is hidden from public view and the Open Day seeks to remedy that.
“It is important from the point of view of the calendar of activities of the department, fulfilling its mandate to account to the public and we do so regularly for example each year at our annual review and planning meeting. The open day in itself, you may call almost incontrovertible evidence of what is happening on the agricultural landscape. And so sometimes we give statistics, we give information, and people ask what is the reality on the ground.
“What we hope to do on Agriculture Open Day is to show what is the reality, what it is that is actually being produced, give people a chance to interact with the producers in their capacity as farmers, agro-processors and to learn more about their situation and perhaps to be in a better position to give them advice, support etc etc.”
The Agriculture Minister indicated that the Open Day provides an opportunity for public/ agriculture stakeholders interaction.
“It also allows us to showcase all the stakeholders – or most of them – who are involved in the agricultural production and distribution effort. So for example, the allied agencies…have an opportunity to showcase what they are doing in the domestic setting in support of our food security and food nutrition needs. Usually, some of these organisations hardly engage the public and, in a sense, combining with us, it gives the public an opportunity to see them at work, to learn more about them and to understand why the government contributes to these institutions by way of our membership fees which we pay to these organisations.
“It is an information sharing occasion, it is highlighting the work of farmers, it is an opportunity to rally to get the public’s support for those who are involved in production, in distribution, in financing of agriculture and it is a mechanism of accountability because people can see for themselves what it is we are saying against the reality on the ground. People have an opportunity to interact with one another…so not only are the farmers showcasing what they are doing but it’s an opportunity for them to meet new and prospective clients and this is important from the vantage point of their own livelihoods…Again, it is an opportunity for all the stakeholders to come together in a single place with a common object to promote to highlight the sector, what each one is doing on its own and in collaboration with others and to give the national community a chance to see upfront and up close what is happening.”
The Open Day will be held at the Agriculture Department, Laguerite, and will feature a number of exhibits including: composting, pig and monkey control methods, quarantine, the Nitrogen tester, Rabbit meat, farmers’ stalls, ROC, IICA and CARDI stalls as well as stalls from the Cooperative zone and Nevis Growers.
It will be held under the theme: “Achieving Agricultural Impact through Effective Consultation and Action.”