In spite of the current economic climate Agrofest 2014 is not expected to lose money when it gets get underway this weekend.
The annual event will take place in Queen’s Park in The City from Friday, February 28 to March 2.
Speaking at a media briefing today, the Barbados Agriculture Society’s CEO James Paul revealed that while there had not been an increase in sponsorship or exhibitors, the good news was that the numbers remained constant. He revealed that it took the BAS an estimated $1 million to produce the event and with an injection of funds from sponsors, including the $80,000 from the Ministry of Agriculture, in addition to hotels showing more interest this year than before they were likely to break even.
This weekend some 330 exhibitors will have their commodities on show. What was different this year, however, was that as well as livestock and produce, locally made craft will also be on display in a major way.
Celebrating ten years, the theme of the 2014 Agrofest is: Encouraging Entreprenuership Through Innovative Agriculture.
Furthermore, Paul said the theme was very applicable, particularly to Agrofest because entrepreneurship was something that his association thought was critically important to the agriculture sector because it kept persons interested in the field.
“A lot of people see agricultural businesses as being part-time but I think especially because of the fact that right now there are challenges in terms of trying to create employment in the economy, agriculture offers people a way of at least supplementing their income or doing an actual business. But it has to be managed properly and that is what we are stressing,” he said.
“We have farmers with renewed interest who want to implement renewable energy techniques in terms of supplying power on the farm. It is something that we constantly need to pursue, in order for us to be able to broaden the amount of people interested. In the BAS we are not happy with just the existing membership, we are trying to expand that membership constantly not only across the actual sector itself but in the individual commodity groups,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Through the years he said, while entrepreneurship had always been an underlying aim, they failed to follow up with the large number of students who showed interest in the area after they visited the event.
This year, he told Barbados TODAY they intended to work with Junior Achievement, to see if when the younger people created a project how BAS could follow up with them.
“Even for instance like next year’s Agrofest, can we bring them to Agrofest to showcase what they have done during the period. Also too we need to get the actual farmers involved in terms of providing that assistance because the fact of the matter is a lot of us are very selfish with the business ideas we have. So what you will have is a situation where we sometimes don’t want to share our ideas – a lot of farmers are like that, we want to get farmers who are prepared to work with these young people,” he said.