The farming community and the financial services and technology sector have joined forces to ???spread the word’ to Barbadians about the benefits of using renewable energy.

The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), First Citizens Investment Services and local alternative energy firm Innogen have launched a new competition for Agrofest 2013 -?? The Schools’ Renewable Energy Competition – which seeks to sensitise young Barbadians about the importance of being energy conscious.

Open to primary school children from ages eight to 11, and secondary school students from 11 to 16, the competition seek to encourage participants to carry out energy audits at their respective schools and to make recommendations for more efficient energy use.

The top five schools in each category will have the opportunity to present their findings and recommendations to a judging panel.

Speaking at this morning’s launch at the headquarters of First Investment Services at Warrens, St. Michael, BAS Chief Executive Officer, James Paul, said that he hoped the participants would take the information ???to heart’ and put what they have learnt into practice.

"We would hope that what the young people learn from this competition, they would implement in their homes and we think in that way, we are reaching deeper into the community to show them the things we can do to lead better lives and have a sustainable approach [to living]," he said.

Country Manager of First Citizens, Elizabeth Morgan, said her organisation, which has been involved in Agrofest for the past three years, was again happy to be a sponsor of the competition.

She too lent her support to the focus on renewable energy, noting this was critical as Barbados sought to mitigate rising oil prices and input costs. Ms. Morgan suggested that such a competition would help young Barbadians better understand the role they can play in being energy efficient.

"This brings a level of awareness to children in terms of the cost of energy. Sometimes we take these things for granted. We use them, but we don’t understand the cost and the effects of the things that we use," she remarked.

Innogen’s Chief Innovations Officer, Mark Hill, stressed that the competition would have practical and national implications for the use of fossil fuels and foreign exchange.

"The foreign exchange savings coming out of this competition is one of the things we are looking to calculate. Also, the fossil fuel savings will be calculated because we anticipate a reduction in terms of megawatts coming from the students’ efforts," he explained.

Citing market research, Mr. Hill said there was about 30 to 40 per cent wastage of energy in the home and such a competition would provide students with the skills needed to become as energy efficient as possible.

Agrofest 2013 will run from February 22 to 24 in Queen’s Park under the theme "Renewable Energy: Leading the Charge into the Future."

Further information on the competition may be obtained by contacting the Agrofest Secretariat, c/o The Barbados Agricultural Society, The Grotto, Beckles Road, St. Michael at 436-6683, or by faxing 435-0651. Persons may also email agrofest@caribsurf.com, or visit the website www.basonevoice.org.


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