Plant more ackee – Linstead ackee fest gets big endorsement from gov’t

The agriculture ministry has commended residents of Linstead, St Catherine, for hosting the ackee festival a fifteenth time, adding that more people should plant ackee, which has been doing increasingly well on the export market.

“The ackee of course has always been a star not only in the Linstead Market song, but it is the leader among non-traditional exports,” said Delroy Coley, Senior Director at the Strategic Planning Division in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

He further told patrons at the festival: “The estimates are that ackee exports will rise to some US$29.25 million by 2020 – by next year that is, having reached exports in 2017 of US$21 million, compared to US$4.4 million in 2000 when we just started exporting to the US market.”

The event, hosted by the Linstead Development Area Committee, took place at Dinthill Technical High School yesterday, October 21. Even a brief rainfall could not dampen the spirits of the people who attended.

A number of vendors and small companies cashed in on the opportunity – selling an array of food items.

One company, Sha-Diamond Pastries and Smoothies, created what it advertised as the new ackee smoothie. It sold a 12-ounce cup for $600; the 16-ounce cup was being sold for $700.

Chefs from another company, Rowena-Rene, cooked up a storm on stage, showing ways in which the ackee can be prepared for consumption.

Norma Riley, a vendor from Ewarton in St Catherine, told The Beacon that she likes ackee especially with corned pork as well as salt fist.

She has been attending the festival since its inception. “It kinda alright this year,” she said, noting that the event is important because it helps to highlight the island’s cultural heritage.

Avis Harvey brought out the meaning of cultural heritage more than anyone else at the festival. She spent the day showcasing a variety of artifacts, including a lantern, enamel cups, a coal stove, and coconut brushes.

Harvey said she has been gathering the items especially over the last three years, thinking that she has a duty to teach young people about the dying aspects of the country’s cultural heritage.

The agriculture ministry, in the meantime, underscored the importance of using the event – Jamaica Linstead Ackee and Jerk Cultural Festival – to showcase aspects of Jamaica’s culinary heritage.

Coley, who officially opened the festival on behalf of his minister, Audley Shaw, noted: “It is significant that this [Linstead] community, already known for its cultural heritage, is providing a real opportunity to showcase Jamaica’s culinary heritage, and the ministry applaud you for that.”

The festival ended with a nocturnal stage show featuring several artistes, especially from Linstead.

Coordinator of the event, Stacy Ann Anderson-Wilson, paused publicly to honour one organizer – Lloyd Earskin, who has given more than 10 years of dedicated service to hosting of the festival.

“I am very happy for the turnout. It might not have been the largest, but I must say that the Linstead community has kept up their appreciation for this festival,” Anderson-Wilson told The Beacon.

She appealed for residents to join the Linstead Development Area Committee, and for current members to show greater interest especially in the ackee festival.

“I will continue to be a part of this festival through its ups and its downs,” Anderson-Wilson added while expressing gratitude to all sponsors.

“It is a very good initiative and we will continue to ask for stronger support to keep this event alive.”


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