PHOTO: (left end) Executive Director of Green Solutions International (GIS) Dr. Wayne Archibald; Dr. Archibald’s business partner Ricardo Boatswain (end right) and students of the Newton Ground Primary School pose for a photo showing the commemorative bill board for a solar energy project (Spokesman Snap)

By: Precious Mills

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (JANUARY 2018)-The Newton Ground Primary School has become the first green energy learning institution in the Federation of St.Kitts and Nevis.

This has been made possible due to a solar panel project (which produce over 11 kilowatts of energy) spearheaded by the Fahies Agricultural Women Co-operative Society Ltd in partnership with the school through collaboration with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Small Grant Programme.

The commissioning of the system was handled by the Global Energy Solutions International (GIS).

On Wednesday this week (17th January), a ceremony was held at the school leading up to the unveiling of a commemorative bill board for the project.

As understood, the agricultural group received US$ 46,111 from the GEF body.

Notably, the group uses the school’s cafeteria area to makes its agro processed goods.

Group representative Lorozine Williams, who spoke enthusiastically about the relationship with its “community school” over the years, said after the grant approval, the group “decided to share with the Newton Ground Primary School.”

She informed that funds from project were used for training, purchasing of pruning tools, procurement of processing equipment and the development of a renewable energy system.

“As a result, solar electrical panels were installed at the Newton Ground Primary School in December 2017. Today, the Newton Ground Primary School is benefitting from renewable energy solar panels. This development supports government’s thrust in renewable energy and it helps to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel energy and so decreases environmental pollution. We are delighted to be a major player in this significant development.”

She pointed out that the school can expect to see a reduction in its electricity bills.

Williams explained how the connection with the rural area school came about after challenges experienced in having to travel to the island’s capital of Basseterre to make produce.

“We started out making our products in our homes but needed improved conditions for members to work together.  We then travelled from Newton Ground and St. Paul’s to Needmust to make some products at the Taiwanese agro processing centre. This caused us to lose sometime some entire days on the farm; a good opportunity for the monkeys to have their fete.”

Thereafter, a relationship was built with the school by use of its basement in the cafeteria.

“We can now work on the farm during the day and perform our agro processing responsibilities at evenings. This is a mutually beneficial relationship…,” Williams also expressed.

According to her, the group is well-known for producing tasty, rich fruit juices as well delicious breadfruit and sweet potato chips and smooth tasting fruit wines.

Among other areas, the group (which consist of farmers from the communities of Newton Ground and St. Paul’s)  assists with the school with events such as Graduation, sports days, career fair and fundraising activities.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Shawn Richards described the agricultural group as “a shining example of a good community citizen and cooperate entity” adding that the cooperative “has undertaken and outstanding project.”

He stated that the not only does the project advance the government’s policy of renewable energy and reduces reliance on energy provided by fossil fuels but that it also adds to the agenda of the GEF’s protection of the environment.

The Education Minister also told that “This venture could renown to the benefit of the students by prompting them to become more interested in things scientific and technological.”

GIS Executive Director Dr. Wayne Archibald (a St.Kitts-Nevis national) said the business is a non-governmental organization that has been involved in designing and building solar panels internationally and regionally.

“We look forward to continuing the advancement of renewable energy in the Federation,” he expressed during his presentation.