Minister of agriculture Hon. Samantha Marshall has commended the GARD Center for helping to lay a solid foundation for youths who have shared an interest in agriculture and entrepreneurship in Antigua and Barbuda over the years.
She made the remarks on World Food Day, which the Ministry of Agriculture observed last Friday with a number of activities.
One of them was a visit which Minister Marshall made to the GARD, accompanied by P.S Colin O’Keiffe and members of the 2020 World Food Day Planning Committee.
Executive Director of the GARD Center, June Jackson said the handing out of food packages and the presentation of hot lunches were done with the backing of the Mill Reef Fund with support from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
Minister Marshall said that sound partnerships is critical for continued growth in any undertaking.“So I want to commend them highly for this effort and I am very happy to know that in this initiative, the Mill Reef Club is a part of it and is giving them the support. It shows how important corporate sponsorship is and support and you only get it when you do the work and they see the benefits of what you are doing,” Minister Marshall stated.
She also commended the GARD Center for spearheading another collaboration with the Mill Reef Club in completing a training programme in backyard gardening and hydropnics, where 22 graduates received certificates.
“So again I really have to commend the GARD center and when we say put it into action, our words into action and when we’ve been talking about food security, I think these are the types of things and programmes that we are looking for.”
She assured the GARD center of government’s continued support moving forward.
P.S Colin O’Keiffe supported the sentiments expressed by the minister and noted how pleased he was to see such programmes happening on World Food Day.
“First of all I would like to join with the minister in thanking the GARD center for this innovative, collaborative initiative with the Mill Reef Club and I think that this is the type of programme that we’ll like to see other stakeholders engage in.’’
He said that the GARD center has been responsible for several avenues of training over the years, but those focusing on food access and production are especially significant especially during this COVID-19 period.
“As we all know, we are all impacted by this Pandemic -COVID 19 and one area for sure that is affected is our capacity to feed each other and to provide food and I think for this world food day, the actual provision of food along with a hot meal is extremely significant.”
He appealed to other corporate citizens to lend support to such an important initiative in subsequent World Food Day Activities to provide for the population.
He also commended the Staff at GARD Center and urged them to keep up the great work.
Fifty single mothers are being offered care packages on a monthly for a period of six months and the director is hopeful for the continuation of the programme for another six months in light of the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on many households.