Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke has blasted his critics, turning the spotlight on media practitioners he accused of being hypocritical dunces.
"Those guys you hear on the radio and writing in the newspapers on a daily basis on agriculture, who can do this and who ought to do that. If you show them a pumpkin and a mango, they sometimes don't' know the difference," he charged.
The minister, who was delivering the keynote address during the launch of two new products at AgroGrace's 697 Spanish Road office, had been speaking about the importance of adhering to the manufacturers' instructions, when he diverted from a prepared text.
"As for me, you know, I've been watching them over the years. They have targeted me on every occasion that they can; sometimes they say I'm too old, I have no use. The fact of the matter is that I put my money where my mouth is and I am a farmer and I produce and everything that a farmer goes through in this country, I feel it and I know it.
"And then some of those people who are out there blaming ministers, calling themselves journalists. I want them to be graded, because I believe every one of them, most of them would get F," he said to much laughter.
Sugar cane holdings
Clarke, who has significant sugar cane holdings and who held the agricultural portfolio under the previous People's National Party (PNP), then responded, without calling names, to a report carried in The Sunday Gleaner of January 6 under the headline 'Grading the Cabinet'. In the article he was given an F-, a C and a UN by three political commentators.
Dr Hume Johnson, Dr Orville Taylor and Richard Crawford graded all ministers on their performances using a scale of A to E. Where they were unable to rate the performance of the minister, no grade was awarded (UN).
The veteran politician and farmer thinks he is being unfairly singled out for criticism and is also a victim of ignorance and bias on the part of critics. He challenged them to stop using the protection of the media to attack him.
Said he: "Those who are criticising, I challenge them. Come and let us deal with it and criticise me for whatever reason. Show me what you criticising me about, because as bad as things are, although we have had a hurricane, at the end of the year, I think we will come out with a little growth because we grew significantly in the first two quarters."