A number of farmers who have invested decades of service into the agriculture industry were presented with plaques and special gifts during a ceremony at the Agricultural Extension Division on Wednesday, while district officers were also presented with more tools to keep on top of things in the field.
The Farmers` Appreciation Day ceremony was addressed by agricultural officials and corporate partners who praised the role of farmers in feeding the nation despite a number of challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Samantha Marshall said that she was happy to see that people who have been farming basically all their lives are recognized in this way and that she was happy to be a part of celebrating this significant milestone.
She however used the opportunity to encourage small scale farmers to utilize the various channels and institutions that can help them to achieve a comfortable retirement and secure their investments, by consulting with Social Security, the Medical Benefits Scheme and State Insurance. Representatives of these key institutions were also present and took part in the presentation ceremony.
“The reality is, for many of us we do not have that level of energy; we cannot give that level of passionate contribution that we would have given and it is important that planning for your future is a significant part of it even for our farmer; I think it is even more critical for our farmers.”
Minister Marshall continued, “Many of you started out with very little and you are able to develop yourselves, but if you do not secure that investment; the reality is we live in a very vulnerable climate.”
According to the agriculture minister, the COVID-19 Pandemic has taught us a hard lesson, but it’s one which can serve as a solid foundation to grow, buy and eat local.
Minister Marshall also called on the district officers to develop relationships with their farmers to the point that they can advise them on new and better techniques to fuel production on their respective farms.
Also attending the Farmers` Appreciation ceremony were past retired senior officers of the ministry, representatives of CARDI and IICA, the LongPing Chinese Agricultural group, the Caribbean Union Bank and the GARD Center.
Head of the GARD Center, June Jackson during the ceremony, awarded two agricultural-based scholarships to Angelica O’Donoghue and Saeed Graham.
The theme for the event was “Our Agriculture, Our Food, Our People, Our Economy.”
Senior Extension Officer, Owolabi Elabanjo praised the resilience of farmers amid the COVID-19 Pandemic and believes that better days are ahead for the Ministry of Agriculture as the New Year approaches.
“I have to congratulate you farmers for your hard work, resilience and perseverance during this COVID- 19 Pandemic and with good determination and hope for food production. I salute you and can only say that with God almighty support, 2021 will be a better year for agriculture.”
Acting Director of Agriculture Mr. Gregory Bailey in his address, highlighted the important role that farmers play in the sustenance of the nation
He described farmers as the primary and most important stakeholders in the production and delivery of the key ingredients necessary for our nation’s sustenance.
Other highlights of Wednesday’s ceremony were a surprise award presented to the brainchild of Farmers Appreciation Day, Milton Barnes and a performance by Young Destroyer.
Members of the audience were also entertained with short video features of the awardees who shared their stories of life as a farmer, their challenges and benefits.