Editorial

Who says there's no hope without the IMF?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013    

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Two news stories we published this week have, for us, been particularly heart-warming and most encouraging. For they indicate to us that, amidst the challenges being faced by this country, and the attitude of many that we cannot do anything without an International Monetary Fund agreement, there are, among us, individuals who are engaged in constructive thought.

On Sunday, we told the story of Mr Ewan Pitter, a third-year engineering student at the University of the West Indies (UWI), who has designed a miniature hydroponics greenhouse, powered by solar energy, and linked to the Internet.

Mr Pitter had on show at the UWI's Research Days last week this greenhouse system which, he says, allows users to maintain the quality of their crops from anywhere in the world, using a laptop or smartphone.

If, as Mr Pitter says, his invention will enable farmers to inject the appropriate amount of nutrients and regulate the acidity of hydroponics solution, all with the touch of a key, then he is justified in his belief that what he has created can revolutionise farming.

We are not surprised that investors have already shown an interest in Mr Pitter's invention. Our hope is that any arrangement into which he enters will prove beneficial to him and will, as was suggested last week, make farming easier, more cost-effective and serve as a deterrent to praedial larceny.

Equally impressive at Research Days was an automated speech recognition system that, we are told, is capable of bolstering independence of the aged and disabled.

According to Dr Andre Coy from the UWI's Department of Science and Technology, users of this system will be able to control household gadgets, such as televisions, radios, and lamps using voice commands.

That project, we believe, deserves strong support. For as Dr Coy reminded us, many elderly persons are unable to do things for themselves, therefore any assistance they can receive to improve their quality of life should be embraced. This, of course, would enhance the special treatment that well-ordered societies give to seniors.

The other story appeared in yesterday's edition of the Observer Central and reported on geo-scientist Dr Mark Harris's solution to transforming potentially harmful bauxite/alumina red mud lakes into fertile ground within two years.

Dr Harris, who is based at Northern Caribbean University in Manchester, said that his formula includes spreading a mixture of gypsum and decomposable organic matter across the red mud lakes.

His method would accelerate the process by which carbon dioxide is absorbed into the earth, thereby preparing the lakes for plant life.

According to Dr Harris, nature could do the process itself if the lakes were allowed to remain idle, but that, he cautioned, is very slow, and could take decades.

There's merit, it appears, to Dr Harris's formula, because Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, head of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, confirmed that the institute has, for years, used mostly gypsum to reclaim inactive red mud lakes.

If Dr Harris's formula actually does work, it's really a no-brainer that we should implement it upon the completion of the rare earth metals extraction process from which the country can gain much-needed jobs and foreign exchange.

Mr Pitter, Dr Harris and the individuals responsible for the automated speech recognition system are to be commended for their innovations which can only redound to Jamaica's benefit, once they are properly implemented.

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