Friday, January 29 – The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and the Department of Agriculture are busy finalising plans for Farmers’ Week 2010 scheduled to begin next Friday, February 5 under the theme, Step Away from Traditional Dependency.  Open Your Arms to Agricultural Technology.

Field judging competitions for both the crop and livestock divisions are completed and winners for the national awards will be announced at the opening ceremony on February 5 at the Department of Agriculture grounds at Paraquita Bay at 10 a.m.

On a GIS Radio Report to be aired later this evening and repeated on Monday morning, Chief Agricultural Officer Mr. Bevin Brathwaite spoke of the historic reason for the Territory’s annual observance of the week-long festivities.

“It is traditional within the Virgin Islands for farmers to get together and celebrate their produce and have friendly rivalry among themselves to see who has produced the best, be it livestock or crop.  Stemming from that and as the industry evolved, Government decided to formalise that arrangement to assist in the promotion of the agricultural sector,” Mr. Brathwaite said.

The chief agricultural officer further highlighted the networking opportunities created for farmers and consumers by attending the activities.

“Support our farmers,” Mr. Brathwaite encouraged, adding, “Farmers Week is a point of contact where relationships can be established between a customer and a farmer if you are so inclined to use organic produce. They have worked hard all year long and we need to open up the market for them.”

During the opening weekend of activities, attendees will be treated to local food, drinks and entertainment including an agriculturally themed calypso show. They will also be able to experience a cultural village and visit a petting zoo. Farmers’ agricultural exhibits consisting of produce and handicraft will also be on display.

The opening weekend of activities will also include a spiritual component with the third annual Sunrise Service to take place at the Paraquita Bay grounds on Sunday, 7 February at 7:30 a.m.  It will include performances by local gospel groups and a complimentary breakfast will be served directly after.

Agricultural exhibitions will then be staged on the sister islands of Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda on Monday 8, Tuesday  9 and Thursday 11, respectively.

The week’s activities conclude with a grand food fair at the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park on Friday, February 12 from 10 a.m. until.  The public is encouraged to attend all activities in support of farmers and the agricultural industry.

The Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour work collaboratively on the sustainable development of the agricultural industry in the Territory.  Farmers’ Week is held annually in support of local farmers and aims to heighten public awareness of the importance of agriculture to the Territory.