Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Jamaica poised to return to research excellence – Green

Published:Friday | December 4, 2020 | 12:17 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer

Jamaica’s agriculture sector is to undergo a major reset which will see the country’s research stations reclaiming their pride of place as global centres of excellence, starting with the Bodles Research Station in St Catherine.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green on Wednesday told the 125th annual general meeting of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) via a virtual presentation that the Government has embarked on a programme to retool and reinvigorate research at Bodles.

“It used to be that people all over the world, and especially the Caribbean, looked to Bodles to lead in relation to agricultural research. We have put $800 million into completely revamping and rehabilitating our Bodles Research Centre and it has to return to being that centre of excellence.”

The upgrades will be extended to all the research stations across the country – Orange River Research Station in St Mary, and Montpelier Agricultural Research Station in St James, according to the minister.

“We are going to be spending money over the next five years to bring back up their research capacity. The reality, especially in this age of climate change, is that not only do we need to be looking at different varieties, at drought-resistance varieties, but we also have to look at varieties of crops that can withstand these extended periods of heightened rainfall. So research has to be at the forefront,” he declared.

Another initiative being pursued is the development of a research-based approach framework for agriculture that would ensure that the work done at the various facilities, including the College of Agriculture, Science and Education, the Scientific Research Centre, The University of the West Indies, University of Technology, among other others, would be translated into developments in the field.

“Research, there is no purpose if it is just to prepare a paper and for it to be graded and we say, ‘well done’.” Research has to be actively applied in our agriculture fields across Jamaica,” Green insisted.

Meanwhile, Custos of Clarendon William ‘Bill’ Shagoury, addressing the AGM from the floor of the JAS head office in downtown Kingston, took issue with the failure of successive administrations to effectively address in any significant way the issue of farm theft. He spoke before Green.

“The praedial larceny that is taking place cannot continue. The laws that them have where you stop a man who steal 100 goats and carry him to court and him get a slap on the wrist, that man must go to jail for a 20 years. Them little slap on the wrists by the RM judges cannot continue … the people must understand that when you steal, you going to pay and you going to do hard labour and plant back something so you can take home some for yourself and stop stealing the people’s stuff.”

Shagoury also took issue with the government policies which he saw as disincentives to import substitution, as well as the imposition of some iniquitous tariff which are downright targeted at ensuring that local farmers cannot compete.

“Every restaurant I go into Jamaica is pure rice them have. I have diabetes so I don’t want no rice. I want a piece of banana or maybe a piece of yam. Our country imports all these foodstuff, fish and all them foolishness, them import bad-tasting fish. I wonder how much duty them charge on that?”