Basseterre, St. Kitts – Dishes made of entirely locally grown foods were the focus of the 10th Annual Eat Local Day Fair put on by the Department of Agriculture last Friday in an effort to promote the use of more local produce.

Speaking with members of the media, Dr. Tracey Challenger indicated that the theme for the day was “Support Farmers and Buy Local,” with the focus food being yam.

“Last year, we focused on breadfruit; the year before, we focused on pumpkin; and this year, we [were] focusing on yam,” Challenger said. “So, all the different type of dishes featuring yam [was on sale that day]. I myself have had a yam pie and it was lovely.”

Challenger added that the day was conceptualized 10 years ago by Alistair Edwards, now permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture who was the marketing officer at the time. The idea got assistance from officials in the department.

“With their hard work and with our new marketing officer, Shawn Clarke, we are now celebrating our 10th anniversary of Eat Local Day,” Challenger noted, adding that Eat Local Day has seen a number of changes since then.

“One of the things that you will note if you have been coming to Eat Local Day, there has been an evolvement of the event,” Challenger said. “We have gone from direct involvement of the agriculture staff to involving more private stakeholders, who are the ones actually selling the food now.”

She added that the dishes that were on sale were made strictly from local produce and they had anticipated more than 250 local dishes to be served.

Dr. Challenger also highlighted the goals of Eat Local Day: “It is an opportunity for the department to promote events that would serve as outlets for our local produce. In the face of free movement, globalization [and] free trade, there is a lot of competition so the onus is on us to come up with initiatives to help farmers to push on from some of the impacts of global events. Secondly, it is a about food nutrition, food security and eating local is always associated with healthy foods and that is another objective.”

She further stated that the day is also used to promote other activities carried out throughout the year and is hosted on a day with other activities being hosted at Independence Square.

“The timing of Eat Local Day on the last Friday in June corresponds with synergistic activities that are taking place at the same time, like the child month march,” Challenger said. “We are hoping the impact would be seen in years to come and will be able to make a bigger contribution towards the economic development of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

The event ran from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m simultaneously with many other activities being hosted at Independence Square.