The Pesticide and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB) today hosted the finals of their “Pesticides Awareness Programme in Secondary Schools” Dramatic Competition at the Ramada Princess Hotel, which saw the Annandale Secondary copping the stop spot.
The competition was held as part of Agriculture Month 2016 calendar of activities and saw over 46 schools across the country taking part. Over the last two weeks the programme exposed students from schools within Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 on the responsible use of pesticides.
The main purpose of the event was to raise awareness on the use of pesticides and the risks posed to children who are the most vulnerable to exposure; especially for those who are engaged in agriculture.
The finals saw four schools, namely Cotton Field Secondary, Bishops’ High, Canje Secondary and Annandale Secondary vying for the top spot with Annandale Secondary emerging as the winning school earning them a cash prize of $125,000.
The second place spot, which a cash prize of $100,000 went to Cotton Field Secondary, third place, of $75,000 went to Canje Secondary and forth place, saw a cash prize of $50,000 going to the Bishops’ High School. Cash prizes are to be utilized as a contribution towards the development of the agriculture department in each school. Other consolation prizes of hampers, trophies and text books were also distributed to participating schools.
While delivering the feature address, Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, said that he believes events such as these will help illustrate the linkage that exists between agriculture and environmental health, especially for children and youths.
“There are many measures that can make a difference for example, better awareness and collaboration to promote safer agriculture practices, such as integrated pest management, reduction of pesticide use, and development of safer alternatives – but education is equally crucial. Youth participation in dramatic presentations such as today provides benefits of artistic, social and personal development.” Minister Holder said.
Based on the judges’ critiques, Annandale Secondary demonstrated a clear message of the importance of proper handling and results of direct exposure to toxic chemicals in addition to having general understanding of the message that the PTCCB aims to put across to students and other persons in communities.
Registrar of the Pesticide and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB), Trecia David-Garnath expressed pleasure having completed another competition that brought awareness in schools. “I am so happy that we were able to have another year of successful competitions within the schools. Sensitization is one of our mandates and the Board is extremely lucky to be free of political hurdles in executing its mandate.” Garnath said.
Minister Holder also pointed to the fact that the most vulnerable people, remain those on the frontlines of pesticide exposure and facing some of the greatest harms includes rural communities, farmers and children.
He called for society to be better informed and protected from the effects of pesticides making mentioned to some of the work presently being carried out by the Board.
In offering brief remarks, Chairman of the Pesticide and Toxic Chemicals Control Board (PTCCB), Dr. Leslie Munroe said that he was happy that the Board is able to hold these events on an annual basis. “The Board is responsible for training persons on the proper use and handling of toxic substances. In this instance, we targeted schools because children take these messages of proper use, handling and storage of chemicals home to their parents. We must understand that pesticides and useful but can be deadly if used irresponsibly.”
Pesticide Awareness Week is held under the theme “Manage Pesticides Responsibly: Adapt to Climate Change.”