UWI yam research going well - Webber
Since Jamaican yellow yam became associated with the success of the country's track and field athletes, especially retired sprinting legend Dr Usain Bolt, interest in the product has sky-rocketed resulting in extensive research currently under way at the University of the West Indies (UWI), said the institution's principal, Professor Dale Webber.
Delivering the keynote address during a meeting of the Rotary Club of St Andrew at the Hotel Four Seasons on Tuesday, Webber said research into the popular Jamaican starch - planted extensively in the parishes of Manchester, Trelawny, Clarendon and St Andrew - has taken off well.
Exporting a lot of yams
"Yam research is really taking off. We have been exporting a lot of yams, yam products. We have been doing tissue culture of yams, and we have been able to break into the United States market," the UWI principal told Rotarians and visitors attending the mid-afternoon luncheon.
In a speech celebrating the university's ranking and showcasing its many achievements as well as disclosing plans for the future, Webber said that male enrollment was up at the campus, which, for years, saw admissions heavily skewed towards women (70-30 per cent).
According to Webber, the increased enrollment is very promising as men increasiingly seek to seize the opportunity for a tertiary education among Jamaica and the region's male population.
He said that the region had an overall low enrollment rate.
However, high on the agenda for the new principal are ongoing efforts to make the university financially viable by reducing utility and travel bills.
Significant reduction in water bills has seen savings of $18 million per month while its travel bill is to be reduced with the use of existing video communication.
Webber said that the UWI was talking to all its stakeholders to see how it could best serve the interest of society while maintaining its cultural significance to the region.