March 25, 2017: ‘This is a great and valuable opportunity for us once again to cause young people in particular school age children to see how beautiful it is for us to be able to feed ourselves, how beautiful it is for us to have control over what we eat and how important it is as a society whatever our circumstances to take control of our lives, if only of what we eat and what we feed on’, said Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Minister, Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat. He was addressing the audience at the Opening Ceremony of the inaugural TechAgriExpo 2017, hosted by the Faculty of Food and Agriculture of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus on Friday 24th March, 2017.
Further, the Minister said ‘it is important therefore for young people to interact with the food that they eat, with the people that feed them and see that with agriculture and food production all you need is a desire to take control over your circumstances’; noting that ‘it is very important for all of us to most importantly do the people engagement where we bring it all out to the people that we serve and who have the greatest interest in the work that we do’.
Speaking to the hierarchy of the University, the Agriculture Minister said that he was ‘here with great envy’; since his reflections on memories of a national agricultural exhibition informed his desire as Minister to host a similar activity upon his appointment as Minister of Agriculture. He said that upon entering office he had ‘visions of food, farm, animals, equipment assembling in a massive green space’; pointing out that he also had visions of ‘me [as Minister] hosting you’.
Other speakers included Professor Brian Copeland, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus who noted that ‘the Faculty of Food and Agriculture has been actively working to raise the profile of agriculture nationally and regionally; engaging in noteworthy projects that bring research and practice together’’; and Dr. Wayne Ganpat, Head, Faculty of Food and Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus who said ‘this Expo is our effort to jump start the agriculture industry in Trinidad and Tobago. We want to excite young people since they are our future; and technology will get them into agriculture where they can work smart’. He pointed out that ‘as an extentionist, my job is to link farmers to market and link entrepreneurs to business people – and the time and space is this weekend at the Faculty of Food and Agriculture’.
The main purpose of the Expo is to provide a space to highlight the work being done in agriculture and food throughout the nation; and to showcase agri-innovation, entrepreneurs, value added products and services in the sector.
The Expo runs until Sunday 26th March on the University’s Compound in St Augustine.
There were some two thousand students in attendance on the first day of the Expo, visiting the laboratories to see first-hand tissue culture, vermiculture, composting, plant factory, rooftop hydroponic system, herbarium, chocolate making, among others.
Following the Opening Ceremony, the Honourable Minister led the dignitaries on a tour of the Exhibition. The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries is a major sponsor of the three-day event.
Also present at the Ceremony were Mrs. Angela Siew, Permanent Secretary; Mr. Claudelle Mc Kellar, Deputy Permanent Secretary; and Mr. Andre La Veau, Permanent Secretary; Professor Rhoda Reddock, Deputy Principal, University of the West Indies; members of the Diplomatic Corps; Dr. Lystra Fletcher, Representative, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO): Mr. Gregg Rawlins, Representative, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture; Mr. Barton Clarke, Executive Director, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
Among the exhibitors were ADB, NAMDEVCO, Sugarcane Feeds Centre; Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, PCS Nitrogen, Network of Rural Women Producers, IICA, FAO, CARDI, Island Grain, Tobago House of Assembly’s Tourism Division, Gravely, Green Age Farms, Noelia’s Paper Beads Jewelry Creations, Acacia, Mr. Mappy, Habanero Trinidad, House of Arendels.