Despite a lack of labour and bad access roads, the Tableland Pineapple Farm Association held its annual Fruit Festival titled Win with Fruits at the Nu Image Simplex, New Grant on June 15. The event was staged to educate young people about the importance of the Agriculture sector and showcased a variety of exotic local fruits, including pineapples, bananas, sugarcane, passion fruit, paw paw and barbadine. “We are trying to change 50 years maybe of neglect, maybe not being able to educate ourselves sufficiently and not being able to make proper representation of ourselves,” said president of the association, Ramash Ramsumair.
In his feature address, Minister of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs Vasant Bharath outlined the reason for the festival. “The hope to reintroduce many of the once popular fruits that was once forgotten,” he said, and encouraged young people to get involved in the agriculture sector. “Our demand for local fruits far outsells our local supply,” the Minister said. By supporting local produce, “money goes into the pockets of local farmers.”
Rambhrose Teelucksingh, a pineapple farmer and member of the association, highlighted some of the major challenges faced by farmers in Tableland. “Labour is a serious problem, we can’t get transport to our access roads because of the condition and licensing for vehicles is a problem.” The Tableland Pineapple Farmers Association, Namdevco, the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) and MAFAS Ltd had displays at the festival. Students from Princes Town Presbyterian primary school and North Trace Government primary school, Minister in the Ministry of Local Government Neela Khan and Minister in the Ministry of Education Clifton De Coteau were in attendance.