Minister of Agriculture, Sen. Haynesley Benn,??presenting awards??with winners of the Natural Rustic Cook-off Competition, Shareece Haynes, Ashley Rowe and Alesia Rowe of the St. James Secondary School,??and teacher Sonai Agard,??with their prizes. (Image: C. Pitt/BGIS)

One of this country’s leading local culinary experts has issued an appeal to the Ministry of Education to incorporate a category for local dishes into the Home Economics syllabus.

Citing a need for more emphasis to be placed on our youth to eat more foods that are "home grown", Food Development Officer, Marion Hart, called on the local Education fraternity to pay more attention to those students who excel in subjects such as Home Economics.

She was speaking at the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation’s (BADMC) prize-giving ceremony for Primary and Secondary school students who took part in the "Natural Rustic Cook-Off Competition" and "Junior Garden Competition" at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday afternoon.

"Not everyone is academically inclined, but what about those students who have raw talent in the said Home Economics.?? We need to help cultivate and develop that talent and aid them in utilising their skills," Ms. Hart maintained.

Ms. Hart pointed out that the response was favourable from the 13 secondary schools that participated in the competition and, thus judging proved "difficult".

"We had a challenging time in making our final decision, since the standard in this competition was so high.?? Therefore, we judged according to presentation, product and the person," she explained.

In the meantime, Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn, told the audience that the presence of the young ones who were there to receive their awards was testimony to the interest which young people have in agriculture.

"The BADMC has among its primary objectives, the promotion of youth in agriculture.?? In order to achieve these objectives the BADMC has embarked on a number of initiatives, chief among these is the Agri-Preneurs project launched last year in October."

Senator Benn also noted that his Ministry was currently working closely with a number of secondary schools, such as Industry High School, Princess Margaret Secondary, Christ Church Foundation School and St. Lucy Primary in developing their agricultural programmes.

He further added that it was "heartening, that the interest and involvement of schools in agriculture had reached the level where these competitions were possible and so keenly contested.

"It is my understanding that the entries were of a high standard.?? This is good to report as we are encouraging our youth to eat those things which we grow and to present them in very creative, attractive and appealing recipes.?? For example, the breadfruit roast; cassava bakes with salt fish and spicy tomato dip; cassava raisin cookies; St. James Bajan Pot Soup; cocktail salt fish cakes with spicy dip and cassava chip cupcakes…

"Also in an effort to inspire and involve the Primary Schools in the Corporation’s activities for Agrofest, the "Junior Garden Competition" was conceptualised.????It is therefore, reasonable to conclude that the thought behind the competition was to encourage the primary schools to apply theoretical science lessons taught in the classroom in a practical way," he stated.

In the "Natural Rustic Cook-Off Competition" for secondary schools, St. James Secondary was awarded first prize, Parkinson Secondary second place and Deighton Griffith Secondary awarded the third prize.

For the "Junior Garden Competition," Lawrence T. Gay Memorial walked away with the first prize, Welches Primary secured second place, while St. Stephen’s Primary took the third spot.

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