Winner of School Garden Competition Sandy Bay Government School. (Photo: API)

The Sandy Bay Government School has emerged winner of the School Garden Competition organised by the Ministry of Agriculture to build the interest of youth in agriculture.

Sandy Bay defeated 18 other competitors on its way to taking the top spot.

The New Adelphi Secondary School took the second spot while the Mustique Government School came in third.

The Ministry of Agriculture held the competition in April 2018 to encourage the application of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to agriculture, to create an interest among students in agriculture and to present a tool which can enhance teaching and learning.

Speaking at the prize giving ceremony, Senior Technical Officer in the Rural Transformation Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Currel Thompson, said that the competition saw participation in three categories including crop only, livestock only and a mixed category of livestock and crops.

Thompson added that the Ministry of Agriculture has been encouraging youth involvement in agriculture and the school is a good place to start to create that interest, and to change attitude towards agriculture.

The Ministry of Agriculture partnered with the Ministry of Education to execute the School Garden Competition. Senior Education Officer Joyceline Blake-Browne said that the benefits of the initiative couldn’t be overstated. She said the school feeding programme has taken on a new look as more and more nutritious meals are offered to students and with this competition, students can now actually plant what they eat.

“Research will tell you that once the children plant what they eat they are likely to eat more. They will eat more vegetables and they will be more alert and achieve more academically, so we are extremely pleased with the benefits of the school garden competition” the senior education officer said.

Meanwhile, Chief Agricultural Officer Ashley Caine said he hopes that the initiative will have a lasting impression on the minds of the youngsters so that they can take a liking to agriculture contributing to a strong, vibrant agricultural industry in the next twenty years.

The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which worked through the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), jointly funded the School Garden Competition. Registration is now open for the 2019 competition, which will run from April to November.