Farming stakeholders welcome return of Montpelier Agricultural Show
FARMERS FROM western Jamaica and other locations across the island have warmly welcomed the resumption of the annual Montpelier Agricultural Show in St James, after two years of not having a venue to showcase and sell their produce because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
The Gleaner got their views at the agricultural show’s 2022 staging on Monday, which was held under the theme ‘Building back agriculture stronger’. The event was marked by a strong presence of patrons, with attractions that included horseback riding, mechanical bull riding, bounceabout castles, bun-eating contests, and the expected display of fruits and vegetables.
Ruel Corniffe, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society’s (JAS) Hanover chapter, lauded the day’s events, which he and his group’s members took advantage of to showcase their signature java plum wine, castor oil, and coconut oil.
“It is a joy being here; and I was looking forward to it because, due to COVID-19 and other issues, the show had not been happening for some time. It is a good opportunity for us, and a good change ... to have the show reintroduced and back in full swing,” said Corniffe. “The turnout of individuals on the ground is good; and it was good to have the weather in our favour today so we can go on for a bit.”
Alecia ‘Empress Asil’ Cowan, who travelled from the Blue Mountain area’s School of Vision Rastafarian commune in eastern Jamaica for the show, was likewise glad for the chance to showcase her aloe vera soaps, shea butter with lemongrass, natural shampoos, and other similar products.
“It is like a weight has come off our shoulders, because the COVID-19 took a toll on all of us. Being back at this event and with things having been freed up, it is a good thing, because a lot of us out there need something like this, and sales for us have been great also,” said Cowan.
Monday’s staging of the Montpelier Agricultural Show, along with the hosting of the St Mary Agri-Expo in Annotto Bay, St Mary, marked the resumption of agricultural shows across Jamaica after the pandemic forced a suspension of all such activities. The resumption of the shows had previously been announced on March 23.
Two years earlier, JAS President Lenworth Fulton had announced that the pandemic had disrupted the organisation’s revenue streams, with four agricultural shows having had to be cancelled at that time.
Meanwhile, Glendon Harris, president of the JAS’s St James chapter, lauded the longevity of the Montpelier Agricultural Show, which his chapter has hosted every Easter Monday since 1987.
“This show has a strong foundation, and it would have been a serious misstep on our part not to have the show this year. We deliberately chose the theme ‘Building back agriculture stronger’, as most of us would recognise that during the time of COVID, we saw food prices rise to levels that most of us cannot afford. As long as we are not feeding ourselves, we will be in trouble,” said Harris.