Tue | Feb 25, 2020

Loss of $80m gov’t subsidy will change how JAS operates – Fulton

Published:Monday | January 20, 2020 | 12:15 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer
Lenworth Fulton, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society.

Western Bureau:

The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) could find itself in dire straits going forward unless the organisation can find a way to plug the gap when the Government pulls the annual $80-million subsidy it pumps into the organisation to help fund its operations.

Speaking with The Gleaner after a recent soft launch of the 2020 Hague Agricultural Show, JAS President Lenworth Fulton said that without the government subsidy, the umbrella organisation, consisting of varied affiliated agriculturally related groups, could face a challenge paying its staff.

“The $80-million contribution from the Government was used to pay the salaries of our staff members. The cut will now cause a new configuration on staff for the association,” noted Fulton, who pointed out that this would not neccessarily mean sending home some workers.

Without the government subsidy, which the JAS has been benefitting from since 1941, events such as the Hague Agricultural Show, which also used to benefit from state financial support, could be also be impacted.

Last year, J.C. Hutchinson, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, revealed that the JAS would be transitioning from a government to a non-governmental organisation over the next two years.

“This means that the JAS will have to stand on its own two feet, and it will have to make money so that it can finance its operations,” he explained at the Montpelier Agricultural and Industrial Show in St James.

According to Fulton, while the organisation anticipates that the changes will impact different areas of their operation, including groups such as the 4-H Clubs, the 125-year-old JAS will remain the voice of the farmers.

“JAS, going forward, is going to be more of a lobbyist organisation, speaking on behalf of organisations associated with agriculture. The Jamaica 4-H organisation comes to mind immediately,” he said.

“The JAS of the future will function in a different manner than it is today,” he said.

Fulton added that the 2020 staging of the Hague Show, which will take place on Ash Wednesday, February 26, will usher in a new era in how the 65-year-old event will be structured.

“When the show is officially launched on January 22, we will provide further details of how the JAS will function going forward,” he told The Gleaner.