Jamaica not lagging behind in science research ... but needs more innovative minds to grow the economy
Even though Jamaica is not lagging behind where scientific research and development are concerned, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley has called for more innovative minds to be developed in the island in order to boost the economy, similar to what happens in countries that enjoy First World status.
"We are not lagging behind. We have over the years produced a number of scientists, who have gone on to make tremendous contributions in the areas of science and technology. As a country, we need to become innovators. If you can look at what is happening around us, all the developed countries, they rely on science and technology. They have innovators to allow them to have the level of success, as it relates to economic growth and development," he said.
Minister Wheatley was speaking to The Gleaner at the Scientific Research Council, for the launch of Science and Technology Month, which will be in November.
He said that people need to be made aware that it is not only tourism and bauxite that attract growth and development.
"It (Science and Technology Month) is very important because we have to ensure that the message is out there as to the importance of science and technology. We need to move away from believing that it is only tourism and the bauxite industry that can allow us to grow," the minister said.
Wheatley highlighted that Jamaica currently has 50 per cent of the world's nutraceutical plants. These he said, are indigenous to Jamaica, and persons should invest and take advantage of the opportunities available in the sector.
He also said that legislative framework will be looked at that will make it easier for persons to invest in the field.
"As a people, I don't think we attach enough prominence to research and development, and so even though we have trained quite a number of scientists, they leave to go overseas to find greener pastures. We need to ensure that we create the environment for our scientists to flourish," Wheatley told The Gleaner.
"Science and technology [is] one of the main pillars that will afford us the opportunity to really achieve true growth and development. We are looking at providing the legislative framework that will allow persons to invest in research and development. I also ask that the private sector invest in research and development because we need some level of funding. Jamaica is blessed in that 50 per cent of the 160 nutraceutical plants are indigenous to Jamaica. What we need to do is to capitalise and use this opportunity to really propel ourselves as a people."