The Ministry of Agriculture says it is always pleased to be involved in initiatives such as Eat Bajan Day.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lennox Chandler, lent his support to the initiative while speaking at the offices of the Barbados Manufacturing Association on the Harbour Road.
“As we struggle with a high food import bill of $700 million, what we have to try and do is reduce this import bill. The issue of eating what we grow in Barbados is very important. . . .We have to point out the nutritional value of local food.
“We have many centenarians in Barbados, and this has a lot to do with the food they have eaten over the years. We have to focus on that as well.
“We know the importance of cultivating trees. Everybody should have a lime tree or an avocado tree. Every household in Barbados has enough space that they can plant a tree.
“I have banana trees in by backyard,” Chandler said, “And they produce enough bananas that I can give away some to friends.”
He added: “Some years ago someone raised the idea of keeping a kitchen garden and it met with much criticism. However, everybody who grew up in rural Barbados knew that people kept kitchen gardens where they grew lettuce, cabbage tomatoes, carrots and beans. This is something that we should engage in at this time.”
Alluding to the promotion of using cassava flour instead of wheat flour, Chandler noted that many bakeries had expressed an interest in using cassava flour and sweet potato flour.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the BMA, Bobbi McKay said that Eat Bajan Day had become an annual event on the BMA calendar and pointed out that the association was pleased to be partnering with the Graham Gooding Trust Fund on the initiative.
”Our mandate is to support local manufacturers and producers and to sensitise the public to their products and the ways in which these products can be used. That is why we are so excited about this year’s school programme,” she said.
Schools had been responding positively and were keen to participate in this year’s programme, McKay added.
The competition will see each school preparing three local dishes using locally grown produce and meat.
“We are looking for creativity, good taste and flavours,” she said.
“The mindset behind the involvement of the schools is that in order to impact or change long-term behaviours nationally, we have to reach out to the children.
“Last year the Grantley Adams Memorial School did an amazing job and laid out quite a spread using a number of local products in extremely creative ways. We want to encourage not only the use of local products but development of culinary skills within the schools.
Eat Bajan Day is an excellent opportunity to achieve this,” Mckay said. (NC)