Noted agriculturalist, Marjorie Stair, is urging residents of St. James to look to opportunities in agriculture, noting that despite the challenges, the sector remains viable.
Mrs. Stair, who was among a group of presenters at a 'Jamaica 50' symposium and exhibition held on Monday (July 23) at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, said that many industries, including tourism, depend on agriculture for survival. “There are real opportunities that must be exploited,” she stated.
She noted however, that farmers must be able to "provide the quantities required, consistently, at the time required, and with respect to stringent food safety and food quality requirements."
Mrs. Stair stated that sustainable rural development is synonymous with a vibrant agricultural sector. “Sustainable land use is important, and also of our marine resources. A vision of the future for St. James must place emphasis on the sustainable use of our lands and human resources," she said.
Educator and former Principal of the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College, Dr. Cecile Walden, while stating that “we have done well in 50 years,” called for young people to make full use of technical and vocational education.
"Encourage your communities to let your youngsters of 17 and 18 years old access that opportunity to learn the technical and vocational…that is what has driven the Asian countries, and what will drive us to production," she stated.
"The traditional values of moving forward through education have to be brought up within the family structure to make us understand that we cannot stop with just "meking a money" we have to go on to fulfill a life as a productive citizen,” she stated.
The forum, held under the theme: 'Montego Bay…50 Years and Beyond,' saw presentations, which looked at the growth and development of the city of Montego Bay since Independence.
Other presenters were: Member of Parliament for Central St. James and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lloyd B. Smith, who gave a history of Montego; Executive Chairman of Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ), Mark Hart, who spoke on commerce and how infrastructural development has aided the growth of businesses; Chairman of the Montego Bay Resort Board, Evatt Bloomfield, who spoke on tourism; and community activist O. Dave Allen, who looked at community development and the contribution of persons, who have helped to build the city.