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Come for farming, stay for fun at agri shows

Published:Monday | April 22, 2019 | 12:28 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

Good, “clean family fun” with something of interest for every member of the household will be the order of the day at the two expositions hosted by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) in St James and St Mary today.

Livestock displays showcasing the best in cattle, sheep, goats and rabbits are a major drawing card at the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show in St James and St Mary Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show at Agualta Vale, JAS President Lenworth Fulton told The Gleaner yesterday. The issue of climate change will also be addressed, in light of a recent call by farmers for a policy support to help them deal with the harsh realities brought on by the phenomenon.

Climate-smart agriculture

“There will be new approaches to the challenges of climate change to show more climate- smart agriculture, because that is a confrontation that we can’t hide from, so we just have to deal with it,” the agriculturalist declared.

“The shows celebrate rural activities and rural people who are mostly farmers, and so by coming out, patrons are giving tangible support to agriculture and get a chance to learn about the research findings in regard to new crops, improved varieties, improved livestock, and then there are the culinary arts competitions. They provide clean family fun in terms of the live music, dog shows, horseback and donkey riding, all of which come together to make the Easter shows an enjoyable option,” he pointed out.

“New equipment, machinery and technologies, as well as improvements in agro-chemicals and other inputs and improved farming systems, will be on display. So the shows also provide a chance to network and meet people who are doing exciting things in local agriculture, young scientists and students in training at our various agricultural schools to really get a chance to share their work with the public.”

The JAS president also pointed out that his administration would be seeking to provide incentives for livestock farmers to participate at the shows, given the significant fall-off in sponsorship over the years, which had resulted in smaller numbers of animals being presented in recent years. Escalating fuel costs and increases in feed prices, as well as the maintenance for handlers who, along with the livestock, are usually housed at the facility a few days before the show, have combined to make it less feasible for some farmers to participate.