Antigua & Barbuda has, for the first time, copped both the first and second prizes at the 40th annual St Croix Agricultural Festival over the weekend.
The festival, which runs from February 19-21, includes exhibitors, farmers, artisans, horticulturists and business representatives from Caricom and USVI countries.
The Central Marketing Corporation (CMC) took first prize, while young farmer Twin-I Payne won second place from a total of 30 exhibits put on by farmers across the region.
Chairman of the A&B Exhibition Committee Sereno Benjamin explained the concept that took first prize.
“The theme was forty years and going, so in the CMC booth we exhibited a tree that is growing and at the roots we had the root crops like ginger, yam, cassava and sweet potato and then we used the cucumbers as the leaves and we used the red hot pepper to write out the word forty, and we bordered it with the pineapple. We used sivontine as the grass that would be growing in the field, then we used the carrots and sorrel to depict the sun,” Benjamin said.
Second place winner, 29-year-old Payne said he was overjoyed at the award, having only begun farming 10 years ago. He said he has participated in the exhibition for five years, having placed third once before and has always had a good reception and easily sold all of his produce.
The festival features displays of all sorts, including various attractions for the whole family; food stalls, competitions, musical entertainment and agricultural demonstrations. It also offers a unique opportunity for participants to network with business through socialising in a relaxed environment.
Governor of the United States Virgin Islands John Jorgh, Jr welcomed the participants to the 2011 Agriculture and Food Fair of the United States Virgin Islands during the opening ceremony on Saturday.
“For 40 years, the Agri–Fest has been the anticipated event on the territory’s calendar, and is one of the signature public engagements organised by the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture. Each year, the Agrifair has continued to expand in size, diversity, attendance and spirit,” he said.
The 2011 theme, Governor Jorgh Jr noted, reflects this remarkable history with the message “Forty Years and Still Growing Strong.”
Antigua & Barbuda sent a 20-member team to the Agri-Fest from both the Ministry of Agriculture and representatives from private farmers. The country did not send a team in 2010 as they took a break to review their participation. It took first prize for five straight years between 2005 and 2009.
The Antigua & Barbuda team comprises; Permanent Secretary Sharon Peters, Sereno Benjamin, Owolabi Elanjano, General Manager of CMC Dalma Hill, Communications Director Onika Campbell, Diahn Gomes of Veterinary and Livestock Division, Cades Bay Station Manager Irose Henry, Tracelyn Michael, Ernestine Nesbitt and other private sector representatives and farmers.
Showcasing Antigua & Barbuda’s authentic crafts and produce were Twin-I Payne, local farmer; Bernadette Francis, craft; and Alvis Abbott, Evette Williams, Dorothy Pelle, Icilma Bleau, Andrea Douglas and Jeanette Galloway.
Antigua’s own Susies’ hotsauce and the signature Black Pineapple were also on display at the exhibition.