THE EDITOR, Sir:
I write to express my appreciation for the stewardship of the minister of agriculture, Roger Clarke, in assisting a group of overseas investors I know who needed guidance in activating a project in Jamaica.
The minister was very helpful in persuading the investors, who could have gone to other locations, to invest here. The minister's knowledge of the sector, his willingness to assist and acumen so impressed the business persons that they were convinced to invest here.
Minister Clarke has a lifetime of hard-earned expertise in agriculture, both as minister and a successful farmer in his private capacity. Farmers and the various agriculture sector groups can attest to his breadth of knowledge and ability to understand the issues.
In reflecting on the experience with the investors, I was drawn to conclude that we really need to do more in terms of succession planning in Jamaica so that the knowledge and expertise of people like Roger Clarke are not lost to current and future generations. There must be a way in which the knowledge and experience of senior leaders in every sector can be passed on in a seamless manner. I believe this is lacking in the political process in both parties and in business, among others.
There are many others like Roger Clarke whose 'grey eminence', if you will, should be available to younger leaders to gain from their valuable insights through some process of understudy or mentoring. The lessons learned by these older players can prevent us from repeating a slew of mistakes.
ADDRESSING CRITICAL AREAS
In his current tenure as agriculture minister, Roger Clarke has pursued a truly holistic approach to the development of the sector, with achievements in critical areas such as drafting a comprehensive Food and Nutrition Security Policy with a strong emphasis on developing our ability as a country to feed ourselves; piloting the Plant Genetic Resources Bill through the Lower House; and developing a range of social infrastructure projects such as rehabilitating and constructing schools and health clinics in sugar-dependent communities.
He has also sought to upgrade sports facilities in these areas islandwide and develop and commission a range of irrigation schemes such as New Forrest and Duff House, and completing extensive works on the Yallahs Irrigation Scheme.
Most fundamentally, he has helped to engineer a partnership with the Ministry of Education to utilise locally grown foods to be used in the School Feeding Programme, a move that will not only assist our farmers, but will improve the nutrition of thousands of our children and improve their capacity to learn.
I truly hope it is not too late to begin this process of transference.
MP, Eastern St Andrew