R&D Must Play a Greater Role in Agriculture – Clarke


Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, has said that the Research and Development Division must play a greater role in driving growth in the industry.

Mr. Clarke was addressing staff of the Bodles Research Station on February 15, at the facility station’s location in Old Harbour, St. Catherine.

He noted that research “isn’t something sexy,” and the work of persons in that field often goes unnoticed as “they don’t have anything to show overnight; it takes time, it takes trial and error to enable you to reach where you want to go”.

“So we are going to do our best to underpin whatever progress we hope to achieve in agriculture in how we deal with research and we have to do it, even if it is in recognition of a guy like T.P. Lecky (the late Jamaican scientist),” he said.

State Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Ian Hayles, agreed with the Minister, noting that in order to achieve the level of growth desired, “we would have to start in terms of building back capacity, start looking at production in terms of how do we increase production, and how research and development plays that important role in bringing in new stocks to the farmers of this country”.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Donovan Stanberry, informed that the Government was moving to “significantly accelerate” the process for the Research and Development Division to become an executive agency.

“There are many reasons why we need to do that because the autonomy is needed to give you the flexibility to be able to be more efficient….also that kind of autonomy will assist the Research and Development Division to forge the kind of alliances in an easier way with the private sector, with academia, in terms of advancing the research agenda,” he stated.

Mr. Stanberry said there are also plans to fix the roads leading into the facility. “That will be done between now and March 21,” he assured.

Bodles is one of five field stations under the Research and Development Division of the Ministry.

According to Principal Research Director, Marcia Blair-Thomas, the station’s work focuses on targeted solutions as well as market-driven research and development programmes relating to the production of field and horticultural crops, and providing pest management solutions to some problems that have been diagnosed.

“We have a plant protection programme as well. We also have…an apiculture unit that looks at the whole business of extension and research, as well as the regulation of the bee-keeping industry; and our livestock breed development, looking at alternative feeding strategies for livestock across different classes of animals,” she informed.

During the visit, the officials met with staff and toured sections of the facility, including the newly-installed Post-Entry Quarantine division, where tissue culture development work is conducted.

They also viewed greenhouses where crops such as ginger and citrus are being grown under the Protected Cultivation Research programme, as well as peppers and tomatoes under the field-related evaluation work.

 

By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter

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