Fri | May 26, 2017

JAS gone high-tech

Published:Saturday | March 21, 2015 | 3:00 AM

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has established a $10 million information technology platform (call centre) to boost the marketing of farmers' produce.

Additionally, the JAS has introduced a pension plan for farmers in conjunction with the COK Sodality Co-operative Credit Union.

Senator Norman Grant, president of the JAS, said his organisation was seeking to build a trade platform for local farmers.

"So, if a farmer has 10,000 pounds of pumpkin, he can call into the JAS call centre and we can create a matching platform where transactions can take place," he explained.

Grant was addressing the press launch of the 32nd annual staging of the St James Branch Societies of the JAS Montpelier Agricul-tural Show. The show will be held on Easter Monday (April 6) under the theme 'Grow What You Eat and Eat What you Grow'.

The show will be held in honour of former Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke, who died last August.

Commenting on a pension plan for farmers, Grant said farmers generally work for several years until they reach retirement, at which time they have no benefits and are left destitute.

change farmers' plight

He said the JAS was moving to change the plight of farmers who contribute significantly to the nation.

"As a professional, when I get to 65 or 70 years, I will have a pension. Farmers work for 40 years without getting a pension," said Grant. "We are now agreeing to a platform, where farmers can ascribe to a framework. Contribute your savings - starting from $500 a month - to any account. You can save up to a period of 10 to 40 years ... . When you get to age 60, you will get to draw a pension for your hard labour."

Glendon Harris, president of the St James Branch Societies of the JAS and mayor of Montego Bay, said an exhibition hall

is being constructed on the Montpelier showgrounds, which will be named in honour of the late Roger Clarke.

He said the Ministry of Agriculture had made a $1 million contribution to the project.

"Roger Clarke had been very near and dear to agriculture ... . We want to ensure that this show, in his honour, will be the best you have seen for the last 15 years," said Harris.