- Since July 1, this year, the Scientific Research Council (SRC) has been operating an outpost in Montego Bay, as it steps up efforts to engender greater public awareness of its work and show how communities and small businesses island-wide can benefit from its science and technology, wastewater management and food processing services.
- He says the intention is to set up other facilities at selected points around the island.
- With the outpost just over one month old, Mr. Watson says the public's response in terms of telephone calls has been good, even though the facility has not been officially launched.
Since July 1, this year, the Scientific Research Council (SRC) has been operating an outpost in Montego Bay, as it steps up efforts to engender greater public awareness of its work and show how communities and small businesses island-wide can benefit from its science and technology, wastewater management and food processing services.
Hawthorne Watson, Manager of Information Service at SRC, tells JIS News that the first outpost, established in Bluefields, Westmoreland in partnership with the local community association, is now being restructured, “so we have moved ahead and set up one in Montego Bay to serve Trelawny, St. James and Hanover”. He says the intention is to set up other facilities at selected points around the island.
With the outpost just over one month old, Mr. Watson says the public’s response in terms of telephone calls has been good, even though the facility has not been officially launched. The launch is slated for November, which is Science and Technology Month.
“So far, most of the calls are on natural products”, he informs, noting that persons are seeking information about valued added products and essential oils from ginger, lemon peel, pimentos and fever grass.
The public has also been asking about waste treatment, “as everybody is trying to get green,” Mr. Watson adds, pointing out that the SRC has been working with the National Water Commission (NWC) on treatment plants in Montego Bay. The SRC received the Global Award for Environmental Practices, so its waste treatment plants are far superior to the traditional plants, he remarked.
Calls are also coming from students who need help with their School Based Assessment (SBA) projects, Mr. Watson says, adding that, “where we cannot help, we direct them to where they can get help.” He informs the SRC is the focal point for some 40 science and technology libraries worldwide.
Housed in a small office in the United General Insurance (UGI) Building on 24 Market Street, the outpost is manned by one competent staff two days a week, on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is also a 24-hour messaging service via voice mail.
Pointing out that the SRC could not provide a daily physical presence at the outpost due to costs, Mr. Watson says never-the-less, the agenda set for the outpost is huge. “By year-end”, he says, “we hope to address the three parish councils and have at least two big public forums in Falmouth, one on September 25, when we will speak to small farmers on post harvest activities”. He says the SRC intend to address the Hanover Council on September 11 and is awaiting confirmation from the other Councils.
A training programme on waste management and food processing will also be undertaken, through workshops and seminars.
Working with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) Mr. Watson says, “We want to get to the end users, such as communities and small businesses and get them to employ science and technology, using indigenous materials”.
Some of the technologies and services available through the outpost are, wastewater management, including information and advice on design and implementation of environmentally friendly wastewater systems, anaerobic technology and biodigesters; and tissue culture technology including the production of disease-free plantlets in flexible quantities.
Members of the public can also receive information on food processing techniques, preservation and storage, packaging, and value-added products from local crops; extraction and processing of essential oils and identification of the active ingredients in medicinal and other indigenous plants.
In the area of industrial chemical and analytical services, information on the testing of food, soil and wastewater samples at international standards is also available, as well as on science and technology, through the SRC’s Documentation Centre.
There is also available data, which may aid in energy planning and savings, and the purchase of technology and technology packages, including input requirements, formulations, costing, space requirements and factory layout, and business information.
Mr. Watson says that consultancy services, such as site inspection, process and product audits for improvements in developing business ideas will be available, as well as assistance in developing and enhancing products and processes, and quality management systems.