BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
GREEN ISLAND, Hanover - The Agricultural Department at Rhodes Hall High School in Hanover received a much -needed boost last week when Junior Agriculture Minister Ian Hayles donated more than $300,000 worth of agricultural inputs, including chicken, planting materials and livestock to the co-educational institution.
The donation forms part of a commitment by Hayles, who is also the Member of Parliament for Western Hanover, to fund the institution to the tune of $2.5 million over the next twelve months.
Hayles made the commitment last month during a tour of the facility with Education Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites.
During a brief handing over ceremony at the school last Thursday, Hayles reiterated the Government's intention to reduce the importation of agricultural products, which he said, now stands at more than US$900 million annually.
" We have to cut that level of importation and so we will have to start eating what we grow in this country," he told the students.
The donation included 600 chickens; three goats; vegetable seedlings and 100 bags of chicken feed.
The Junior Agriculture Minister also promised to provide further assistance to the institution's agricultural programme, pointing out that as of next year, he would be providing $500,000 annually from his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to the programme.
Meanwhile, Erneil Campbell, who heads the school's agricultural department, later told the Observer West that Hayles' donation will greatly enhance the institution's farming programme.
" The gift from the member of Parliament will enhance the development of agriculture in the school because people will now look at agriculture more as a business, as a career, and not as being demeaning," he argued.
Additionally, he said, the donation will go a far way in increasing the agricultural output of the school.
According to Campbell, who has been teaching at the six-year-old education institution for the past four years, students are currently involved in the cultivation of a wide variety of vegetables and the rearing of poultry.
" We produce enough of these to satisfy the needs of the canteen and when we have excess, the crops are sold to teachers below market value," he added.