Roger Clarke honoured for commitment to agriculture
Former agriculture minister Roger Clarke was remembered for his commitment to the sustainable development of the local and regional agriculture sectors, and the welfare of small farmers in particular, during Tuesday's launch of a scholarship in his memory, tenable at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Passley Gardens, Portland.
Valued at $250,000 the scholarship which is offered by the Caribbean Broilers Group of Companies will be awarded to an outstanding second-year student pursuing a bachelor's degree in agricultural science, with effect from next month.
Dr Keith Amiel, manager corporate affairs at Caribbean Broilers (Jamaica) Limited, used the launch event at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston to explain some of the reasons the company was committed to celebrating "the memory of a remarkable man".
"I recall the day when a poultry industry delegation, faced with impending extinction, walked into his office to complain that indiscriminate (and below cost) poultry imports were ruining us."
Clarke, he said, immediately called in his officers to review the possibility of imposing tariffs to safeguard the considerable investment of local operators and the many jobs that would be in jeopardy. After being properly informed, Clarke took action, as he saw necessary.
"In spite of protests from powerful sources, he insisted that the safeguards be put in place, thereby not only ensuring the survival of the Jamaican poultry industry but creating a stable environment on which we could continuously modernise and upgrade our operations to better serve our customers and countrymen.
And today, except for essentially neck and back, Jamaica is self sufficient in chicken," Dr Amiel explained.
When the pork industry came under threat, Clarke took action to ensure not only its survival but effectively its rebirth, on a much stronger footing.
Still, he was not finished, taking Jamaica's story to CARICOM and was the main presenter at the launch of the Pork Association of the Caribbean, laying the groundwork for future exports to the region. This he did in the capacity of chairman of the Caribbean Alliance of Agriculture Ministers, reinforcing also Jamaica's presence on the board of the Council of Trade. His efforts resulted in the Caribbean Poultry Association and Caribbean Agribusiness Association being given permanent seats on this regional committee.
"For all this and more, for his dedication, his passion for and his belief in agriculture in Jamaica, the CB Group is pleased to present to the College of Agriculture, Science and Education, the Honourable Roger Clarke Scholarships, beginning September 2016, as they continue to mould future generations of Jamaicans, excited, energised and wild about agriculture," Dr. Amiel declared.
Sunday, (August 28) will be two years since Clarke died from a heart attack, after completing surgery in Florida, United States, to relieve pinched nerves in his back.