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Caribbean News

JAMAICA: Minister Shaw Encourages Farmers to Boost Fruit Production



#MontegoBay, September 25, 2018 – Jamaica – Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, is calling on farmers to increase the production of fruits in order to reduce imports.

The Minister was speaking to journalists on Friday (September 21) following a tour of the AUSTROJAM Ltd. farm in Bluntas District, St. Elizabeth, where farmer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Martin Zsifkovics, is engaged in large-scale cultivation of fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, utilising irrigation technology provided by the National Irrigation Commission (NIC).

“What Martin is doing is showing that we have to take things to a higher volume level, so that we can cut down the importation of these critical fruits that we can produce here at a higher quality than what we actually import from abroad,” he said.

He noted that AUSTROJAM Ltd, which supplies hotels on the north coast as well as supermarkets across the island, is a great example of what can be achieved in Jamaica as it relates to import substitution.

“He [Mr. Zsifkovics] is a source of inspiration to me as Minister to say to other farmers that they should raise the volume levels and get rid of the importation of these [fruits] that we can produce successfully here in Jamaica,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Minister said that “apart from the hotel trade and the supermarkets locally, let’s target the other 15 CARICOM countries. Things like what we are producing here – cantaloupe, honeydew – can be sold into those 15 member countries because they are importing from the United States and other third-country markets”.

For his part, Mr. Zsifkovics, noted that the visit from the Minister serves to underscore the importance of the agriculture sector for the country’s sustained growth. “Agriculture is everybody’s business. We have to get everyone together and work as a unified team to grow our (agricultural sector), as only together can we make the change happen,” he said.

AUSTROJAM Ltd., which is in its 10th year of operation, grows and distributes watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin, honeydew, and cucumbers all year round. The farm is also involved in pig rearing.

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Caribbean News

Sandals Resorts International, The University of the West Indies and Florida International University Partner To Create The Gordon “Butch” Stewart International School of Hospitality and Tourism



#Jamaica, October 26, 2021 – In recognition of its 40th anniversary and to honour the legacy of its Founder, the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, OJ, CD, Hon. LLD, Sandals Resorts International (SRI) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Florida International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management to create the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism.

The new school will be built at the Western Jamaica Campus of The University of the West Indies, Mona in the tourism capital of Montego Bay, the birthplace of the Sandals brand. Through innovative technology and by leveraging the Universities’ powerful network and reach across the Caribbean and internationally, regional and international students will benefit from high-quality academic tutelage and practical experience in a range of hospitality and tourism programmes.

Speaking on the significance of the partnership, SRI’s Executive Chairman, Adam Stewart, said, “Creating opportunity through education is fundamental to our organisation and to the successful future of the Caribbean, as it is to all people seeking a better life for themselves and their families.  This conviction, so deeply held by my father, was fostered by experience and in long conversations begun so many years ago with the great Professor, Sir Hilary Beckles.  This partnership is so deeply meaningful and the work ahead extremely vital.  Sandals has proven that what is born of this region can successfully compete against any brand on an international stage.  Now, together with powerhouses The UWI and my alma mater FIU – two world-leading academic institutions, we embark upon building the world’s premier institute for tourism, the Caribbean’s economic engine.  This is truly, a dream come true.”

Stewart also spoke of the transformative power of tourism for Caribbean economies, saying, “Tourism is the single most powerful industry across the Caribbean and its ability to connect with and impact wider industries and subsequently Caribbean economies is often under-appreciated. This partnership and this school is an obvious investment in the education of Caribbean people but beyond that it is also an investment in Caribbean tourism and the many other critical industries that we support. This investment will go a far way towards mapping the pathway for the survival of the region. Hundreds of thousands of Caribbean nationals depend on tourism, whether directly or indirectly. This school is an investment in our young people, in the future of the Caribbean and represents our understanding of the critical role of tourism in the future of the region.”

A cutting-edge, research-led facility, the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism will provide students with an immersive, holistic world-class learning and training experience by marrying the academic excellence synonymous with The UWI and FIU with the groundbreaking innovation and world-leading hospitality standards that have come to trademark the Sandals brand.

The Institution, touted as the 21st century symbol of the ideal relationship between the private sector, academia and civil society is poised to become the flagship centre of hospitality and tourism in the region and will also focus on providing meaningful learning experiences for students outside the classroom.

Stewart shared, “My father believed in learning by experience – ‘on-the-job training,’ as he often put it. As a consummate entrepreneur and a lifelong dreamer, he knew success was born beyond the boardroom, found instead in moments of exploration and discovery.  It is this understanding that will inspire the world-class curriculum, putting students in real-world experiences as part of their development.”

The partnership embraces the core objectives of increasing access to globally ranked education, improving alignment with critical and influential industry needs and aspirations, demonstrating agility and responsiveness to the challenges of tourism and hospitality education and practice and delivering focused academic leadership and quality assurance processes, consistent with the Universities’ respective policies, standards and procedures.

Commenting on the landmark collaboration and its implication for regional development, Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said, “Tourism is our number one business in the Caribbean and The UWI is its number one university.  FIU has been a respected partner to Caribbean people and institutions for decades and in particular, counts many distinguished Jamaicans among its graduates and professors. It follows therefore that the three of us should collaborate to ensure our individual and collective oneness.  The Sandals brand and its product, are excellent and exquisite. The UWI is honoured to work with Adam Stewart, its leader, to celebrate the respected legacy of his father, the brilliant Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart. The idea of building up a first class tourism and hospitality school within The UWI to honour this legend is at once exciting and energizing. The UWI-Sandals-FIU engagement is therefore a powerful and progressive partnership that will serve our region very well in the years ahead.”

His sentiments were shared by President of the Florida International University, Dr. Mark B. Rosenberg who added, “We are proud to partner with Sandals Resorts International and the University of West Indies, two highly respected institutions in the Caribbean and both leaders in the hospitality industry. At FIU, we already welcome international students from the Caribbean from 20 different countries. Offering even more students, the opportunity to study, learn and live in two hospitality destinations learning and working from iconic leading institutions and brands like Sandals, UWI and FIU, is historic. We also need to acknowledge SRI Executive Chairman Adam Stewart BS ’03, who has followed in his father’s footsteps in business, leadership and generosity. This partnership will create a perfect avenue for students looking to advance their hospitality education in two of the top tourist destinations in the world, resulting in a new generation of hospitality leaders.”

The Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart International School of Hospitality & Tourism will not only offer a number of existing programmes, including the BSc in Tourism Management and the PhD in Tourism/Hospitality but will also offer newly developed programmes such as the BSc in Hospitality Operations, the BSc in Attractions and Events Management and Master of Science programmes in Hospitality Management and Events Management from Florida International University.

Stewart shared, “My dad spent much of his life pioneering and building the regional tourism industry. There truly is no better way to celebrate his legacy than by working with The UWI and FIU to ensure the sustainable development of the region’s tourism through training and investment in our young talent. I know this project would have made him so happy and we cannot wait to cut the ribbon and officially welcome our first cohort of students.”

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Bahamas News

Students display culinary skill and creativity in Bahamas Young Chef Competition



Lamont Missick with judges and teachers

#TheBahamas, October 19, 2021 –  – Despite setbacks and limitations due to COVID-19, Lamont Missick, H.O. Nash; Gerardo Annacius, Anatol Rodgers and Brianna Butterfield of Kingsway Academy, overcame the odds and finished first, second and third respectively in the second phase of the recent 29th Annual Bahamas Young Chef New Providence District Culinary Competitions.

With hybrid lessons and just two weeks of in-person classes supervised by teachers, the three students, who are enrolled in Family and Consumer Science Education, stepped up to the plate and earned the right to enter the upcoming third phase (National Round) of the annual contest.

Now into its 29th year, the annual district competition, sponsored by the Ministry of Education along with Robin Hood Flour and Mahatma Rice, was held at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School, October 7 and 8.   Under the watchful eyes of judges who are all professional chefs — Clement Williams, Jimmy Dean, Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Hazel Rolle, and Celeste Smith — the students were required to use Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour to prepare a dish and dessert based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Resilience: Going Back to Our Roots.”

Following the grueling round in the kitchen and interviews by the judges, Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer congratulated the students and parents, and offered advice to the teachers.

“We appreciate all of the time and effort that you put into your children. This competition is a true partnership between home, school and industry. The chefs are willing to give their input and give them [the students] the benefit of their experience.

“We have three young persons who are very much into what they are learning in school. They are putting their best foot forward. All of them are automatically in the national round,” said Ms. Turnquest.

“COVID-19 is forcing us to use technology in new and creative ways. You are now able to bring industry professionals into your classroom almost on a regular basis who don’t have to leave where they are to get into your classroom to give the students the benefit of their knowledge.”

She urged the students to use the judges’ critiques to refine and elevate their dishes.

“You saw the experience of working in the kitchen with persons viewing and walking through while you are working. That is something valuable. Take advantage of it and we’ll see you again for the National round. Congratulations to all of you today.”


Lamont Missick, 14,

Flour dish: Pineapple upside down muffin

Rice Dish: Land and Sea Rice

Lamont said he used the opportunity to sharpen his culinary skills.

“I realized my love for culinary arts from the age of 8. I remember watching Ratatouille, and hearing that “anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great. I aim to be great and one day become and executive chef in my own restaurant,” said the ninth grader.


Brianna Butterfield, 14

Flour dish: Sugar apple almond muffins

Rice dish: Spinach Carrot Rice Cup with grouper pineapple sauce

“I love to cook and I wanted to boost my cooking skills,” said Brianna.



Gerardo Annacius dubbed his dishes ‘Fall ‘n’ Love’.

Rice dish: Conch and shrimp rice ball with plantain and coconut deep fried in coconut topping

Flour dish: Toasted bennie spiced cream puff with native pumpkin and coconut crème filling topped with ginger caramel


All of the judges commended the students on their dishes and encouraged them to continue to work hard.

Lamont was praised for his organized and sanitized kitchen-station. Also noted was his flavorful ‘spot on’ rice dish from which exuded flavors of conch, lobster, salt beef and coconut milk.

Chef Williams encouraged him to improve his presentation and move away from serving rice the old fashioned way of “cupping” in a bowl.

The judges were impressed with Annacius’ theme: “Fall ‘n’ Love’ and gave him pointers on how to improve his dish and dessert.

“You experienced a slight setback in the kitchen and your dessert dish did not come out as expected — but you did not stop, you made an effort to present something. Your dessert was flavorful; it did not rise like it should but you executed based on what you had,” said Chef Smith.


By Kathryn Campbell

(BIS Photos)

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Caribbean News

JAMAICA: Frontline workers and athletes hailed for their roles in battling COVID-19



#Kingston, October 19, 2021 – The performance by frontline health workers and Olympians from the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo has benefitted Jamaica tremendously.

This from Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Hon. Olivia Grange who made the comment while speaking at a virtual National Heritage Week Thanksgiving Church Service held Sunday (October 17) at the Waltham Park New Testament Church, 65 Waltham Park Road, Kingston, under the theme, ‘Saluting our Heroes…Safeguarding Our Legacy.’

During the service, there were virtual scripture readings by Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness and the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Golding. The service was aired on local television stations and streamed on the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s social media pages.

Minister Grange said that the work by the two groups, health care workers and athletes, “have benefited our nation immensely in the COVID-19 [coronavirus] pandemic times.”

She read comments from a newspaper article by nurses in St Ann, who had explained that although their jobs posed many challenges, “they were working towards a greater good”.

“It is a good feeling to know that we would go down into history as a set of people who did what we could do to alleviate the pandemic. It is a good experience to be part of this life changing time for the country,” Minister Grange recounted from the article.

The Minister said that the athletes should also be commended for giving Jamaicans “much to cheer about by their performance” during the pandemic.

“They represented us so well, that Jamaica ended up with nine medals putting us sixth place in track and field and 21st overall out of 206 competing nations. All of that against the background of the pandemic which had severely disrupted their training schedule,” she said, adding that the athletes should also be praised for setting a good example by getting vaccinated prior to the games.

Minister Grange urged Jamaicans to use Heritage Week to show respect and appreciation for the service and sacrifice of not only the National Heroes, but also for the “heroes of today.”

“It is important that we celebrate our National Heroes and the everyday heroes who make such a difference in our communities,” she added.

She said that the Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Awards 2021 which has been pre-recorded to observe the gathering limits of COVID-19 protocols, will be aired on National Television on Monday, October 18.

In his virtual remarks at the national thanksgiving service, Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen said that Jamaicans should treasure and build on the legacy left “by those who have helped to shape our nation.

“Today we continue to use the inspiration and opportunities created by our heroes as well as the traditions of our parents to be our guide, to open new horizons of social progress, economic growth and individual excellence,” he said.

Release: JIS

Contact: E. Hartman Reckord




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