Jamaica owes a great deal of respect and gratitude to retired Agriculturalist, Lieutenant Colonel Hubert Lounges, whose 43 years of outstanding service to local agriculture will continue to positively impact the sector for generations to come.
Mr. Lounges, who will be 93 on December 10, not only witnessed but played key roles in the sector that gave rise to a number of achievements.
These included St. Elizabeth being recognised as the ‘breadbasket’ Parish, the development of the local chicken and egg farming industry, as well as spearheading several other major agriculture projects islandwide.
This was achieved while he served in various capacities in the Ministry of Agriculture, most notably in the job positons of an Extension Officer, Loans Officer, Forest Ranger, Credit Officer, Training Officer, among others.
It is for these accomplishments and his decades of invaluable service that Mr. Lounges was recognised for the 2020 National Honours and Awards.
“It was a pleasant surprise but I believe that it was nice. I believe I was reasonably successful and made my mark from the days of forestry right out,” he said.
Mr. Lounges also served for 34 years in the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF), where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Among his accolades in the JCCF were awards for 34 years of Dedicated Service, and for Recognition of Outstanding Leadership and Dedicated Service as Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion that consisted of Munro College, St. Elizabeth Technical High School, Manning’s School, Lacovia High School, Rusea’s High School and Cornwall College.
“I always took the opportunity to do things. I would love to be thought of as the man who got things done, because I think I did that I got things done,” he stated.
Mr. Lounges was born in St. Margaret’s Bay, Portland, where his brilliance and high academic achievement earned him scholarships that took him to Dinthill Practical Training Centre and the Jamaica School of Agriculture.
The Diploma in Agricultural Science that he received qualified him for a job at the Ministry, which first assigned him as a Forest Ranger (Officer) in Albert Town, Trelawny.
His career soon blossomed and took him across the country to other parishes such as St. Thomas and Westmoreland, before permanently settling in St. Elizabeth.
He, however, fondly recalled his stints in St. Thomas, first as assistant extension officer for the Land Department and then Assistant Credit Officer at the Yallahs Valley Land Authority.
“The start of modern poultry was in that area (Yallahs) and I was not only there to witness that. They put me as an Assistant Credit Officer and I was in charge of the extension part of the chicken rearing. So I had to go to the farmers’ places, make them work out how they would rear the chickens – have light for the chickens and so forth,” Mr. Lounges said.
“Clinton McGann of McGann Eggs, who was one of the biggest egg farmers, was one of my farmers. I drove with him to the Norman Manley International Airport to pick up his batch of chickens,” he added.
After being transferred to St. Elizabeth in 1962, Mr. Lounges wasted no time in getting to work. He recalls being assigned the more “odd” assignments during his earlier days in the parish.
“In the area leading to Balaclava they did some blasting and damaged some bananas for some farmers. So they complained and the Ministry of Agriculture was asked to send someone down there and estimate the damage so they could compensate them if necessary,” Mr. Lounges said.
“So I got the job. I never did anything like that before, but I went down there and I did it. A Public Works man came to the office and said they want to see the man who did it and he said he wanted me to teach his officers how to make an estimate like what I did because it was the first time he ever saw people got payment so fast. So I would get those odd jobs and seem to have been able to manage them,” he explained.
His achievements as an extension officer were soon known all over St. Elizabeth and in no time Mr. Lounges took up the position of a Loan Officer with the Jamaica Development Bank.
A little later, it was Parish Manager for the Self-Supporting Farmers Development Scheme. The scheme was a programme of the Inter-American Development Bank.
“St Elizabeth during the period committed the most money to the island. The parish loaned the most money and recovered the most money. All that led to it becoming the breadbasket parish. I was there to witness that; I was in charge of that programme,” he indicated.
The husband and father of six children retired from the Ministry of Agriculture in 1992 but his passion for the profession saw him filling in for a short time, training cub scouts at Leeds Primary School.
“Today, I think the powers that be are making efforts in the right direction [and] I think we will be better off. We are on the right track. Also, we have to encourage [the construction] of bigger farms, but with that right control,” stated Mr. Lounges, who is a distinguished president of the Kiwanis club in St. Elizabeth.