T.A. Thompson Junior High exhibits its agricultural produce for ‘International Day of Plant Health’

The content originally appeared on: ZNS BAHAMAS News
Minister of Agriculture & Marine Resources, the Hon. Jomo Campbell, former Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling, Dr. Patricia Symonette, and officials check out the crops produced at the school, which included tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. (BIS Photos/Patrice Johnson)

A brief ceremony commemorating International Day of Plant Health, was held on Monday, 12th May at T.A. Thompson Junior High School on Warren Street in Oakes Field, revealing progress attained by the school in the area of agriculture.  In attendance were the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Hon. Jomo Campbell, former Governor General, Dame Marguerite Pindling and other officials. Director of Plant Health at Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA), Yasmin Johnson delivered opening remarks and served as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Addressing the 9th grade students currently enrolled in the school’s Agriculture class, Minister Campbell said that it is ‘critical’ that investments are made to pursue agriculture as the country’s future depends on it.  “As we join the worldwide community in recognizing this day, it is necessary that you students make every effort to protect and preserve our future prosperity,” he said. ” Agriculture is an essential need for humanity, so I encourage you to pursue various careers in the field of agriculture.  Lead on T.A. Thompson, the World is watching.”

Also delivering brief remarks was Chairperson of BAHFSA, Dr. Patricia Symonette: she challenged the students to engage in agricultural pursuits via higher education and entrepreneurship. She said that the sky’s the limit in agriculture and that the field has dramatically changed with the introduction of technology and innovation.

“Since 90% of our food is imported, we must find sustainable ways to feed ourselves, otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to food insecurity,” said Dr. Symonette. “So I challenge you students to consider careers in agriculture and abandon the old images of agriculture,”  she said. “Today, careers in agriculture are diverse.  You can become agricultural economists, inspectors, lawyers, engineers, sales managers.  The scope is varied.”

Former Governor General, Dame Marguerite Pindling also spoke briefly to the students, encouraging them to find practical and innovative ways to farm.  Currently, the students have planted and harvested tomatoes, peppers, bananas and lettuce at the school. There are also plans in the pipeline for the production of eggs.

The school received a donation of seed packets, bags of top soil, cow manure and fertilizers. Minister Campbell pledged to provide funding for ‘shade from the sun’ to shield the school’s outdoor classroom where the agriculture classes are held.

School Principal, Ishmael Smith, thanked the MInister and his team for the visit and the donation.  Under the tutelage of instructors, Mrs. Melbourne and Mr. Ortiz, he said, all of the students in grades 7 to 9, have been exposed to agriculture education. 

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