“Progressing Towards Food Security: Our Food, Our Future, Our Bahamas,” was the theme of the 3rd All Abaco Agricultural, Marine Resources and Agribusiness Expo (AgriExpo), which took place on April 17-18 at the BAIC Park.
The AgriExpo began with an opening ceremony where Shelly Austin served as moderator. Ronel Escarment of Every Child Counts (ECC) sang the National Anthem followed by a prayer by Pastor Lennie Etienne.
AgriExpo Chairman Josefina Curry, the first runner up for the title of National Public Service Officer of 2014/2015, gave the welcome address.
In her remarks, Curry spoke of the purpose of the event, which was to expose the talent of the local farmers, fishermen, artists and artisans through their display of demonstrations, presentations and competitions.
Before the first speaker was introduced, St. Francis de Sales Catholic School Choir sang a harmonious rendition of “One Heart Many Faces.”
Dr. Raveenia Hanna, executive director of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) in Andros, also brought remarks. She said that BAMSI is a means of empowerment, and that it is a vision and hope for The Bahamas.
Currently, there are more than 40 students enrolled at BAMSI, and their ages range from 16 to 52. For the benefit of the Abaco community, she made special mention of an Abaco student named Jerome Coakley, who is on the honour roll.
Dr. Hanna said that through BAMSI, Bahamians can obtain a diploma, associate’s degree or certification or enroll in a distance-learning program giving them access to careers in agriculture and marine industries. She also outlined numerous partnerships and a scientific study that they are involved in.
In his remarks, Former Abaco Administrator Cephas Cooper, who is now the undersecretary for the Dept. of Agriculture, greeted the audience. He reflected on his participation in the first two AgriExpos, and now as luck would have it, his participation in the third one.
Cooper said that this year the focus was on individual AgriExpos in various Family Islands; however, next year a National AgriExpo will be held in New Providence and vendors will be selected to represent their respective islands. While he was captivated by the talent displayed at the AgriExpos he had attended to date, Cooper said that nobody does it like Abaco.
Rashad Reckley serenaded the crowd with his soulful saxophone rendition before MP for North Abaco Renardo Curry was called on to speak on behalf of Minister of Agriculture the Hon. Alfred Gray. After listing the islands where expos have been held, Curry stated that the purpose of the expos is to unify communities while giving a financial boost to the economy.
He said that the tragic events of 911 was an example of how The Bahamas was adversely impacted with the importation of food products. Going forward, there would be more emphasis placed on a Farmers Market along with technical assistance and land clearing assistance in the new budget.
“I want to commend the schools and the organizing committee members,” Curry said. “Food security is an achievable goal.”
He concluded his speech by declaring the 3rd All Abaco Agricultural, Marine Resources and Agribusiness Expo officially opened.
The next segment of the 3rd All Abaco Agricultural, Marine Resources and Agribusiness Expo (AgriExpo) opening ceremony focused on honourees in the agriculture, marine and handicraft sectors.
The list of honourees included Pastor Ezekiel McIntosh and Bishop Lernis Cornish as Agriculture Honourees; Gurth Russell of Marsh Harbour Exporters and Importers Ltd. as the Marine Resources Honouree; Esther Sawyer – Food Preservatives Honouree; Lovely Reckley – Handicraft Honouree; and Johnston Studios Foundry – Artisan Honouree.
Additional honourees for the marine and agriculture industry were: Pastor Lennie Etienne for Diversity and Consistency of Crop; Nick and Daphne Miaoulis of Abaco Neem for Organic and Holistic Farm Production and Sales; Mike Lightbourn for Education of New Farming Practices; Neil and Rachael Aberle of Om Grown Greens for Innovation in New Farming Practices; Liann Key Kaighin of Emerald Organicsfor Outstanding Presentation and Animal Husbandry Practices; Eleanor Pedican and Doris Thompson for Women Contributing to the Fishing Industry; Benjamin Pinder for Original Fishing Methods; and Terry Curry and Kathy Okelleher of Monkey’s Uncle for Tourism Agri-Business.
Schools Essay, Tropical Drink and Bahamian-Inspired Desserts Competitions
Essay competition winners were also announced during the opening ceremony of the AgriExpo. The essay topic for Grade 6 students was: “Discuss the importance of the ocean and marine life to the average Bahamian.”
Competition winners were Danielle Sands of St. Francis de Sales School in first place; Breon Fox of St. Francis in second place; and Fiona Guinness of Hope Town Primary School in third.
For the Grade 7 through 9 competitors, their topic was: “Most handicraft creations in The Bahamas are sold to tourists. How can the industry increase productivity by attracting more domestic sales?” Forest Heights Academy swept this particular competition with all of the top three positions secured by its students. Jonathon Strachan of Forest Heights Academy placed first followed by Rachel Rolle of Forest Heights Academy in second place, and Hunter Pritchard of Forest Heights Academy in third place.
Finally in the Grade 10 through 12 competition, the topic was, “Is self-sufficiency in agriculture attainable in The Bahamas? Give your views relative to vegetable, fruit and livestock production.” Radisha Destine of St. Francis placed first; McNeisha Alfred of St. Francis took second place; and Keeon Daziel of S.C. Bootle High School secured a third-place win.
For the Schools Tropical Drink and Bahamian Inspired Dessert competitions, students submitted innovative desserts and refreshingly cool drinks. Antonio Huyler of the Oasis Restaurant was the judge.
The students were judged on the taste, texture and presentation of their creation and how they incorporated a local product. Celeste Kelly of Long Bay made a tamarind cheesecake. She placed third.
There were lots of pumpkin and potato-inspired recipes as well as those with tamarind, guava and mango. Eban Hanna of Forest Heights Academy (FHA) introduced his “Super Sexy” Guava Roll; Sujith Swarna of Forest Heights Academy, a Cinnamon Pumpkin Pie, Baranda Pinder made a Pumpkin Sweet Pot Pone; Destahny Oliver of Abaco Central High School (ACH) created a Down Home Sweet Potato Pumpkin Crusted Pie placed first. Shante Russell of ACH baked a Sweet Potato Roll with Banana and Mango Filling; Seannique Johnson made a Classic Pumpkin Sweet Pot Puff; and Linda Tilme made a Coconut Pumpkin Cheesecake for which she received honorable mention.
Destahny Oliver was the first place-place winner, Maygan St. Claude was second with a Tropical Typhoon, and Celeste Kelly placed third.
For the Tropical Drink Competition, S.C. Bootle High School and Angels Academy were the only competitors. S.C. Bootle student Keon Russell made a Bahama Banana Infusion while Angels Academy students made their famous Abaco Splash that had flavours consisting of ginger and strawberries, kiwi, cucumber and honey dew.
In second place was Keon Russell of S.C. Bootle and first place was awarded to Angels Academy for their Abaco Splash.