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Lecky to be honoured for pioneering work

Published:Thursday | June 28, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

THE JAMAICA Agricultural Society (JAS) will, this year, pay tribute to the late Dr Thomas Philip Lecky at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show to be held from Saturday, August 4, to Monday, August 6 at the Denbigh showground.

With this year's staging coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the Jamaica Hope and Jamaica Red Pole Cattle Breeders associations, activities will include a wall of fame to highlight the outstanding contributions of the man known as 'T.P.' Lecky for his pioneering vision and scientific contribution in the area of cattle genetics.

This announcement by Glendon Harris, president of the JAS at Tuesday's media launch of Denbigh 2012, came six decades after the historic occasion of June 25, 1952, when Caribbean leaders, cattle farmers and scientists descended on Bodles Agricultural Station, St Catherine, for the presentation of the Jamaica Hope.

It was the first new cattle breed developed in the western hemisphere and has since been acknowledged as the region's greatest success story in dairy cattle breeding.

This pioneering work by Lecky and his team paved the way for development of the Jamaica Red, Jamaica Black and Jamaica Brahman - breeds, which were suited to tropical climes and the Jamaican terrain. Heat tolerant with high resistance to ticks and tick-borne diseases, the Jamaica Hope is able to produce a lot of milk even when raised on poor pastureland, which was the domain of most small cattle farmers during Lecky's time.

Some of his students have in recent years expressed concern that not enough has been done to preserve Lecky's legacy with Dr Karl Wellington, one of his protégés and a renowned cattle geneticist and breeder, declaring that at least five bloodlines of the Jamaica Red have disappeared.

Former agriculture minister Robert Montaque had announced that the Bodles Research Station would be renamed in honour of the Portland native known as the father of the Jamaican dairy industry who died in 1994. However, this is yet to happen.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com