The focus of this year’s National Agricultural Exhibition, more popularly known as Agrofest, has received the "thumbs up" from the National Commission for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases.

The theme of Agrofest 2011, which will run from Friday, February 25, to Sunday, February 27, at Queen’s Park, is "Achieving Healthy Lifestyles through Agriculture".

The coordinating agency for Agrofest, the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) has partnered with the National Commission for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases to bring awareness of the importance of agriculture to healthy living and the Commission is urging all Barbadians to adopt healthy lifestyle practices for 2011.

"[We] urge all Barbadians to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and to reduce their sugar and salt consumption. In addition, increase your levels of physical activity by walking briskly every day. Get off the bus a stop earlier or park farther away from your final destination, and play a physically active game with your children or put on some music and dance," an official from the Commission remarked.

Coordinator, Thedore Fraser, revealed that the Agrofest team would be embarking on an education drive prior and during the Exhibition to sensitise Barbadians about the health benefits of local agricultural produce, particularly their role in the control, prevention and reduction of chronic non-communicable diseases.

"We recognise and would want to highlight the linkages that exist between nutrition and many of the chronic non-communicable diseases, and as such, we will use this event to educate the large and captive audience that it attracts," he said.

Mr. Fraser noted that this drive, which will be disseminated through the various media outlets, will focus on the use of locally grown produce and explore new and creative methods of fully exploiting many of the island’s indigenous crops.

The Agrofest coordinating committee has also partnered with the Commission to develop a number of special programmes and initiatives which will be undertaken leading up to and during the exhibition.

Among them will be the official designation of Agrofest 2011 as a non-smoking exhibition.?? As a result, the sale and or promotion of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco will be prohibited. Additionally, members of the public will not be permitted to smoke inside of the park as it is deemed a ???public area’.??

A special seminar was held recently for all food vendors and exhibitors participating in Agrofest 2011, and its aim was to introduce and remind the vendors in some cases, of the healthy alternatives to preparing meals.

In this regard, a special competition for food vendors will be held at the Exhibition. Participants will be judged on their use of healthy, local ingredients and/or the methods used to prepare their dishes.

The National Commission for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases, which was set up in 2007, advises government on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCD) policies and legislation.?? It also recommends a framework that encourages and promotes behaviour change and the prevention of CNCDs, among other duties.??

Author: Andr?? Skeete

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