It’s not every day that I wake up cursing.
Win with Local Fruits is the theme for the National Fruit Festival 2014, organised by the Tableland Pineapple Farmers Association (TPFA) which takes place from today to Sunday at the Nu Image Simplex Complex, New Grant, Princes Town. The festival is one of the initiatives being promoted by the TPFA identify and create a food system that is safe and allows farmers to meet the demand for local foods without excessive Government regulation and expenditure.
The group is responsible for more than 80 per cent of pineapple production in T&T and also produces papaya, cassava, mango, pommecythere, plantain, hot pepper and other fruits. The TPFA has been an advocate for the development of the pineapple industry and for increased consumption of fruits altogether. The group said in a release: “Currently production, sales, and consumption of locally grown fruits are relatively low. In response, an increase in public education and awareness efforts targeting consumers is necessary in order to bolster the fruit industry.”
The TPFA said it is committed to supporting local food production and educational opportunities for farmers and the public in the areas of organic and sustainable farming systems as well as in the adoption and use of safe new, innovative and emerging technologies in food and agriculture.
“We believe that public education and awareness, especially for the nation’s youth, on the importance of consuming and supporting local agricultural output is a useful strategy. Farmers need assistance in expanding their markets and marketing, and so, food safety training and other issues should become part of basic educational programmes in agriculture,” the group said. “Importantly, Government support should be made available to private and non-profit sectors to maintain and expand consumer education on food safety, oversight for food safety, and potential risks associated with the manner in which food is processed before sale. There is also the imperative to reduce our TT$ 4 billion per year food import bill; alternatively, to ‘eat what we grow and grow what we eat’.
“Consumer education is a public good that helps consumers make informed choices about their food and nutrition intake.” The three-day festival will feature presentations from various farmers’ groups, agro-processors, input suppliers and other stakeholders, as well as educational booths with information and literature about fruits and extension agriculture. There will also be sale and sampling of food, fruits, vegetables, including an array of plants, displays of rare and exotic fruits, agricultural estate tours, and a play area for children. A variety of competitions will be held including most innovative fruit dish, best fruit display, best chow, and best fruit carving.
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