JIS News

President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Councillor Glendon Harris, has said that the farmers’ group must become engaged in a process of renewal, in order to empower its members.
“To contribute greatly to improving the standard of living of their families, their communities and the entire nation, each branch society must begin to take charge of community representation,” the JAS president said.
Mr. Harris was responding to recent calls for a transformation of the JAS, to make it more relevant to the needs of 21st century Jamaican farmers, at the annual general meeting of the JAS at the Denbigh showground, Clarendon on July 15.
The same call was echoed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, who gave the main address at the function. He said that the JAS must be restructured to enable it to better serve the interests of farmers.
Dr. Tufton contended that the body was too “heavy at the top,” which has restricted the filter of resources down to the base of the organisation.
“The branches should be given a bigger portion of the resources to conduct their work on the ground,” the Minister had proposed.
Councillor Harris, who also represents the Division of Maroon Town in the St. James Parish Council, pointed out that JAS Parish Managers are already exposed to extensive training, as well as to funding from private and international organisations.
“I am expecting that each branch society should provide economic projects, that will ensure sustainability within the communities,” he said.
The JAS President also agreed with a position taken by Dr. Tufton, in his Budget presentation, that there is a need to expand value added linkages in agriculture. He said that agriculture’s contribution to the economy must also involve transformation into food and beverage products, but cautioned that value added products must be high quality.
“Even though there are very impressive samples of value added products offered at parish shows, such as Denbigh and Montpelier, we have to move from there and provide guaranteed high quality supply,” Mr. Harris stated.
The JAS President said that his organisation will be moving to involve many of its properties across the island in commercial operations.
“Some of the proceeds of Denbigh are to go toward purchasing Irish potatoes, onions and other seeds for farmers. In this new economic climate, it is my belief that the time is now upon us to step out on our own to protect our future,” he said.

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