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JAS president laments decline in agricultural research

Published:Monday | December 9, 2019 | 2:14 PM
JAS president, Lenworth Fulton - File photo

Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) president, Lenworth Fulton, is contending that the restructuring of individual commodity boards has stunted critical research activities in the sector.

In 2018, the Government amalgamated all agricultural commodity boards into the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulation Authority.

Addressing the Yam Farmer’s Biotechnology Workshop recently at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Manchester, Fulton asserted that the move has negatively impacted agricultural research.

“We have thrown out the baby with the bathwater –the group dynamics that these boards had on the [individual] groups that drive research and give researchers a captive group to get out better products,” Fulton said.

“We will have to work with the universities and the extension arm of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority,” he told yam farmers meeting under the theme, “Taking Biotechnology to Farmers for Sustainable Yam Production”.

Noting the importance of research to crop cultivation, the JAS president encouraged yam farmers to use their cellphones to capture observations in the field, label and transmit them to professors to conduct research.

In addition, Fulton called for biotechnologists to assist in improving the yield per acre for yam –reducing it from the current rate of planting 5,000 pounds to 500 pounds ideally.

“Using tissue culture, we want our farmers to use biotechnology to segregate their activities –grow yam for consumption or grow yam for planting material,” he stated.

The workshop was a collaborative effort of NCU, The University of the West Indies, State University of New York, RADA and the Scientific Research Council.

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