Agrofest Still A Must Amid Recession

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That is according to Agrofest coordinator, Theo Fraser, who disclosed that although two regular sponsors were lost due to the existing economic downturn, another major one was added and most of their seasoned financiers have stayed on board and in some cases increased the value of their contribution to the exhibition.

"Unfortunately, we lost one or two of our major sponsors, but fortunately, we gained another.?? Apart from that we have managed to maintain our regular sponsors and partners which we commend for sticking with us, especially in light of the current economic climate.?? I think this lends proof that those companies have seen the benefits of being associated with Agrofest and have faith in our local agricultural sector," he stated.??????????????????????

While acknowledging that the downturn had negatively affected other sectors, Mr. Fraser pointed out that in the case of agriculture, it might have a positive outlook, since it would force householders to resort to "growing what they eat".

"Even government has been forced to think harder about our food security.?? And now, more companies are showing interest in the sector and have [indicated] support for Agrofest, as it is seen as a vehicle for pushing agricultural related activities in this country," he opined.

Noting that as a result of an increase in exhibitors this year, the Coordinator said they were forced to close the food area and children’s section since September last year.?? The official also mentioned having to deal with increased calls from persons wanting to get spaces for those booths.

"The other sections have been growing steadily and we have seen an increase in the number of persons for the fruit and vegetables areas.?? We have also seen an increase in interest from our regional partners and we can also expect to augment our participation especially from Trinidad as well as Guyana this year.

"With 130 exhibitors on board so far, outside of the Rural Development Commission, what we have done is keep our registration cost the same in an attempt to encourage exhibitors to come out and market their products to the general public," Mr. Fraser explained.

The Agriculture Officer described the initial response from the schools as being "very good." ????However, he lamented the fact that a number of them met with some challenges, either from praedial larceny, or from the availability of the requisite teachers and this had prevented their participation.

"Overall, however, we will still have a very strong showing from the schools who will take part in the garden competitions, as well as put on displays at the exhibition," he emphasised.

To this end, there will also be several additions to the event, most notably the bird show which will be held in the Queen’s Park Steel Shed and with over 250 exhibits running daily, including displays from overseas, patrons can expect livestock shows, a Gymkhana and Agility dog show, a Bajan Bar-be-que, as well as an evening of gospel, among other attractions.

Agrofest kicks off this Friday, February 26 and runs until Sunday, February 28.??tblackman@barbados.gov.bb

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