Southwest farmers market hailed a major success

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It was a steady flow of people coming through the first ever Southwest Farmers Market which was held  along the entrance of Christian Valley road yesterday (Wed).

 

Minister of Agriculture, Hon Samantha Marshall said that she was pleased to see the response from the public to this initiative and commended her staff and farmers who worked together  to make this happen.

 

She said that the activity only exemplifies the upward trend that the ministry is taking with regards to agricultural development in a number of key areas.

 

Minister Marshall said that it is evident that the farmers are embracing new avenues of marketing  their produce and products and also  commended members of the community for coming out and supporting this initiative.

 

She said that bringing the market and products to the people is among the many influential ways that can be used to encourage more people to buy and eat local.

 

“What we’ve really done here is to bring the market to the people as opposed to having the  people come to the market. We are decentralising and from what each person has told me here today – each vendor or farmer, is that they want to see this happening again. They are even suggesting that we do it twice a month, so there is the real effort and enthusiasm from the farmers to make this reality continue to serve the community.”

 

According to the agriculture minister, 2021 has been declared the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables by the FAO and  the farmers market fits nicely into the ‘push’ by the ministry to encourage people to ‘grow local, buy local, eat local and support local

 

“I don’t think that we can send the message  any stronger than what we are doing here today.”

 

On display at the Southwest Farmers Market were seedlings, organic fertilizers, local eggs,  and loads of fruits and  vegetables,  including the traditional ones that buyers usually hunt for around this time of year-the  Easter Weekend.

 

Sweet potato, cassava, green banana, papaya, local ice cream and sugar cake, snow cones using natural juices, roast corn, bambula and jelly water were all available and much more.

 

Minister Marshall added that she would also like to see the agro-processors be included in such an initiative, so that the public can see the added value products that can be created from the local produce.

 

‘So we want to help people to understand the added value of the crops. The other day, I had the wonderful opportunity of tasting breadfruit punch. I’ve never had breadfruit punch before but there was somebody who was innovative enough to make breadfruit punch.”

 

The ministry’s recent collaborative  initiative of making cassava and sweet potato bread also came in for high praise from Minister Marshall.

 

“The fact is that we are going to have to continuously do things like these to help educate our people that there are other ways of you utilising the crops that you have.”

 

Southwest District Officer, Oniecia Anthony said that the idea of the farmers market came about following concerns by the farmers in the southwest district that because of the increased competition at the public market amid the COVID-19 Pandemic,  sales have been sluggish . However at yesterday’s event, their produce was as one vendor puts it,’flying off the table.’

 

Anthony  said that  the feedback from the farmers was very encouraging. Many said that since most of their produce was sold old in quick time,  they had to send to harvest more to accommodate the steady flow of buyers that were coming in.

 

“And now, we have farmers that are saying that they brought their  fruits and vegetables here and have gotten all sold in comparison to the public market.”

 

Ms. Anthony lauded the support received from the communities of Jennings to old road and from even other areas and she  also thanked all her colleagues for their support.

Senior Extension Officer, Owolabi Elabanjo said that the ministry will continue to show the importance of agriculture as a business and the important role it plays in Antigua and Barbuda’s  economic development.

 

‘This is a great initiative…our intention is to bring the market to the people…it is to alert people that agriculture is evolving and it’s the business of today. So we want many more Antiguans to continue to support and buy local and to see agriculture in a different light.”

 

He assured that steps will be taken to look at how similar programmes can be mounted in the other agricultural districts in the not too distant future.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Great initiative God gives wisdom to create new avenues, open new doors, I pray for greater success as more people come to knowledge of this venture. Team continue to work together in unison

    Blessings

  2. Big up to Ms. Anthony , Minister Samantha Marshall and the team.

    Looking forward to seeing similar production in other zones of the island.

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