Norman Grant flip-flops on JAS independence
Almost eight years after advocating the severance of the apron strings linking the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) to the agriculture ministry, as a prerequisite for renewal and growth of the farmers' organisation, Norman Grant has done an about-face, expressing surprise that the Government is in fact taking steps to get the JAS off its books.
Following a meeting with the JAS board on Wednesday, January 17, where Donovan Stanberry, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, declared that the process had begun to revoke the Jamaica Agricultural Society Incorporated Act of June 19, 1941, Grant has gone back on his word.
"The board is studying the Cabinet's position which came to us as surprise," Grant, who is president of the JAS, is quoted as saying.
"I think it is a little bit premature. That's the reason why I said I was surprised," he told The Gleaner.
"At this time, we are not focusing on any divorce. We feel that based on where the agriculture sector is, what is needed is more partnerships and more synergy, and that is what the leadership is focusing on now," he added. "The holding of Denbigh and other agricultural shows and whatever other things that the ministry wants us to be engaged in a way that it's gonna lead to continuous growth and expansion of the agricultural sectors - that's our focus."
Now that the Government has begun the process to give the farmers' organisation the independence it so stridently demanded eight years ago, and even though the process of disengagement will take some time and the JAS has been provided for in the 2018-19 Budget, Grant is crying foul and clinging to a vain hope that he can turn back the process.
"I will be speaking more in depth when we launch Farmers' Month on the fourth of April, and we are hoping that the minister will be there to launch Farmers' Month, and no doubt he will speak to what I call a re-engaged partnership between the JAS and the ministry."