Fulton lays out bold vision for a ‘new JAS’
Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) President, Lenworth Fulton, has laid out a bold vision for the transformation of the society into what he fondly described as the “new JAS”.
Speaking at the launch of the 67th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, which is slated for May Pen, Clarendon on August 4-6 this year, Fulton gave a synopsis of his vision for the society.
The launch took place last week at Hi-Pro Ace Supercentre in White Marl, St Catherine.
In noting the philosophy that “without vision, the people perish,” Fulton presented a dual vision centred around the ‘new JAS’ and a new Denbigh show. He said the annual event in Clarendon is to be moved from “beyond being merely a fair, show or picnic (ground), and become a vibrant, commerce-oriented agri-business expo, a forum and a world-class market where companies can know that their technology and products on display will find favour with farmers, and where serious business and investment opportunities in the sector can be initiated, pursued and consummated.”
Quite a mouthful, no doubt, which led Fulton to nose-dive into the vision for the JAS itself, which he said would be the vehicle towards significantly transforming the Denbigh show.
The JAS, he noted, is presently in transition from being Government supported to becoming a fully self-supporting advocacy organisation that is dedicated to the preservation, maintenance and improvement of the living standards of Jamaican farmers in general.
For all that to happen, Fulton said “it is critical for the sector on a whole to be mechanised and computerised, and by this I mean the entire sector, every farmer, no matter how small he or she believes his or her holding to be.”
In positing how the major changes could be accomplished, the JAS president said in April of this year at the launch of Farmers’ Month, he cited that there “is some $45 billion in Government revenue that is presently within the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ)”.
With that in mind, he proposed that $10 billion of the amount be allocated towards the overhauling of the country’s agricultural sector, including $5 billion for upgrading the aesthetics, security and food safety standards of the parochial markets across the island. The other $5 billion, he suggested, should go towards a lending programme for farmers at an interest rate of no more than four per cent per annum.
Fulton said the JAS “is committed to becoming a business entity to assist in achieving real growth and prosperity for Jamaica by fashioning a modern agricultural sector,” declaring in the process, that “Jamaica, by my estimation, is presently some 50 years behind this target”.
He said the broad and ambitious goals of the organisation can be realised through universal computerisation across the agricultural sector, along with efficient use of irrigation, and the protection of watersheds, “so that our farming lands can be continually watered through periods of high rainfall as well as drought.”
He said the dual Denbigh/JAS vision is being posited and explored further, and added that an initiative is under way, in tandem with an insurance brokerage house, towards having a farmers’ insurance packaged in place across the sector, inclusive of group health, group life and group person accident coverage.
Additionally, Fulton said discussions are under way with the insurance brokerage house to organise a self-insurance fund among members of the farming community, which is proposed to be funded through premiums from the members and income from investment in the fund.
“The main aim of this (proposed) fund is to provide coverage to the extent of agreed limits in the event of losses to members/farmers arising from covered perils. The finer details of this proposal are being worked on,” Fulton indicated.