Tue | Sep 18, 2018

UPDATED: JAS presidential election takes centre stage

Published:Tuesday | July 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Glendon Harris (left) and Lenworth Fulton. In the background is president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, Norman Grant.

Wednesday's election of a new executive for the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) could be the most keenly contested in decades, with just under 600 delegates voting to give Lenworth Fulton a crack at leading the 123 year-old farmers' organisation or return Glendon Harris to a post in which he served from 2009-12.

The election takes place at the Denbigh Showground in May Pen, Clarendon, during the annual general meeting which is set to start at 10 and marks the first time in 15 years that outgoing president Norman Grant will not be on the ballot. Two candidates are vying to replace him.

One candidate , Lenworth Fulton, is a trained agriculturalist and president of the St Catherine Association of Branch Societies. He served as chief executive officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) for three years and was executive director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.

He has promised to work with relevant agencies to develop sustainable marketing strategies at the local and national levels, put the issue of stemming praedial larceny back on the national agenda and work with financial institutions to put in a contributory welfare system for farmers.

The second candidate, Glendon Harris, an agriculturist and businessman, was second vice-president to Grant in the last executive and is promising to complete unfinished business. This is based on the fact that at the end of his first term as president, he was elected to serve as mayor of Montego Bay and so could not serve on the JAS executive.

Both candidates have been campaigning hard across the island and expressed confidence at the polls with Harris charging delegates to stay with the tried and tested; while Fulton has been urging them to break with old school and vote for a fresh approach and new day for farmers.

He argues that a vote for his opponent would, in effect, be a vote for Grant who first served as president from 2003-2009; and vice-president from 2009-2012 when Harris was president, and from 2012-2018.

Outgoing president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society Norman Grant, is in a legal fight to retain leadership of the Kingston and St Andrew Association of Branch Societies (ABS), a position in which he has been unopposed for some two decades.

Last month during a JAS board meeting Grant blocked the registration of delegates supporting the candidacy of opponent Albert Green, citing a section of the JAS constitution, but providing no documentary proof. Green responded by applying to the Supreme Court for an in injunction to block the election for president of the Kingston and St Andrew ABS on Tuesday, June 12.

In granting the injunction, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes rejected Grant's arguments that there were no legal grounds for the challenge by Green. He further directed the JAS to Board reconvene within 30 days and register all applicants that were rejected or deferred.

*Note: An earlier version of this story said Grant served as president from 2015-2018. The correct period is, in fact, 2012-2018.