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By Machela Osagboro

There was smooth processing of the 4,000-plus residents that flocked to yesterday’s seedling distribution organised by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The event was part of the “Farm A Yah Yard” national backyard farming programme.

Chairman of the Farmers’ Forum, Marvin Joseph, told Observer that things went without a hitch and each resident was allowed to collect 10 seedlings within a five-minute period. People who attended were asked to present ID to speed up processing, in keeping with Covid-19 safety guidelines.

“Within 15 minutes we processed over 75 persons. We ask for the ID and we have someone calling out the names and you move straight from there to collect your seedlings which were already prepackaged, and straight out the gate,” Joseph said.

He added that the biggest distribution centres were at the Clare Hall Secondary and the Ottos Comprehensive schools, which served people from across Antigua.

The “Farm A Yah Yard” programme has been stepped up recently to encourage more residents to plant fruit and veg as a defence against potential food shortages due to the virus crisis.

Joseph continued, “The seedlings that were distributed were pumpkin, okra, cassava, sweet potato and string beans. We had a total of just over 4,000 households that registered for seedlings and … maybe another thousand that came in that we facilitated at the various stations,” said Joseph.

The chairman stated that people were very enthusiastic and grateful to receive the seedlings with some coming from as far as Willikies to collect them.

He added that the system of processing people involved inviting those with surnames beginning with A- I yesterday. Those with surnames from J-Z will be processed today.

The chairman commended attendees for complying with social distancing protocols. He said that on Wednesday seeds will be distributed to the elderly and infirm who wish to engage in backyard farming.

“We will concentrate on Wednesday with some deliveries to persons that may not be able to move, some elderly persons who may have grandchildren that are gonna assist them with their garden; we have a list of those individuals who we will be delivering to,” he said.

He added, “Everybody wore their mask because we didn’t allow you to come through the gate without a mask. The police presence were there at each location; they were able to maintain order.”

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