Students from across Barbados today learnt that growing what they eat not only reduces the money spent to put food on the table, but makes them aware too of what they are really eating, and the environmental conditions under which it was produced.
Speaking at the Grow Well School Gardening Competition Awards Ceremony this morning, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management Esworth Reid told the students growing what they ate meant eating more nutritious, safe and less costly foods, while making a contribution to the economy, improving the environment and enjoying the benefits of exercise.
Captured the Grow Well title was The Lodge School, while Most Creative Garden went to All Saints Primary.
The competition was meant to promote among young Barbadians, especially school-age children, the importance of growing what they eat and the satisfaction and health benefits to be gained and enjoyed from doing so.
Reid said he had no doubt the children present did have some fun, and did gain some valuable education, with respect to the world and benefits of agriculture while participating in the competition.
Speaking at the event, also hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Reid noted there were no losers in the competition at the level of the children, or the school.
He said that through the competition the ministry was able, in a clever way, to demonstrate to a number of very young Barbadian schoolchildren that agriculture was not at all a “dirty task in the world of work . . . reserved only for the uneducated, the barefooted and the rejects of society, as some parents probably still believe”.
Added he: “I believe that these children were able to see the science and art of agriculture; and I have no doubt that this has captured their interest, which might someday serve to have some of them here consider pursuing a career in the field of agriculture when they grow up.”
Reid also proffered the exercise should have shown the students the benefits of working in teams and building relationships. He said it would have also helped to strengthen bonds between children and parents in some cases where guardians spent time assisting in the development of the garden projects at home.
Additionally, the permanent secretary said the young people’s presence was a testimony to hope for the agriculture sector, and a return to its glory days of the 1960s and 1970s, when it was a significant feature of the Barbados social, economical and geographical landscape.
He said there was no doubt the competition could turn to reality, if parents and educators would step up to the stage and play their part in assisting young people who desired a career in agriculture –– rather than putting them down and discouraging them.
“This goes for if they are desirous of choosing agriculture as a source of employment or a platform on which to build entrepreneurship as against being a doctor
or a lawyer,” Reid argued.
The permanent secretary said that in an effort to heighten an awareness of the agriculture sector among young people, the ministry had over the years embarked on and continued various programmes to ensure this mission was fulfilled.