Jamaica News: The Knockalva Polytechnic College in Hanover is using its third annual colloquium to foster awareness of the need to ensure food security during and post the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. To that end, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Floyd Green will be the featured presenter.
Set for Thursday, December 3, 2020, this year‘s colloquium will be staged virtually because of health restrictions on public gatherings brought on by the pandemic. College Principal Mrs. Pauleen Reid explained that the decision to host an annual colloquium is to foster interaction by interested parties on issues relating not only to the college, which has a heavy bias on various aspects of agriculture, but to members of the wider community who are able to get answers to their concerns.
She said a plus factor to the virtual staging “is that the use of technology is enabling us to reach a much bigger audience this year; we are therefore expecting a wide cross section of stakeholders island wide and in the diaspora, with an interest in agriculture, to join us virtually on Thursday.”
Regarding the choice of this year’s theme, Mrs. Reid noted, “The whole matter of food security has become quite topical and so persons would love to hear what exactly they can do at their level where they are at.” Following Minister Green’s presentation microphones will be open for a question and answer session.
She said food security is very relevant at this time because notwithstanding the challenges brought on by Covid-19, “We still need to be sure that we have three meals of food per day to develop our immunity and build our strength during and post Covid-19.”
Commenting on the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on the Knockalva Polytechnic College, Mrs. Reid said, “We are compelled to acknowledge that the increasing availability of and access to nutritious foods that comprise healthy diets must be a key component of stronger efforts to achieve the 2030 targets. With the emerging realities of the pandemic, there has to be an accelerated effort for policymakers, training institutions, civil society and the private sector to work together. Consequently, we have had to be tweaking our training, both in the theoretical and practical experiences that the students receive. In this particular scenario, however, what you find that is we have been getting into production. We have constructed a gazebo-style building and introduced a ‘Farm Outlet’ and we have been selling to the public.”
She said the farmers’ market has gained vibrancy “and so what we have done is to engage some students in somewhat of a work-study programme, especially those who have a large focus on agriculture, so they work and receive a stipend.”