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Work to improve agriculture in Clarke's honour, Kellier pleads

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014    

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BETHEL TOWN, Westmoreland — Acting Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Derrick Kellier has called on agricultural stakeholders to continue working diligently for the improvement of the sector in honour of the late Minister of Agriculture Roger Clarke.

"All of us are very sad at his passing and we sincerely hope that you will be able to pick up your life nonetheless. And for his sake and his memory that we continue to work hard to make sure that agriculture prospers and grows in this country," Kellier charged.

"He respected all the farmers and he loved them very much, and on every occasion that he had to speak, he always spoke about the resilience of the small farmers. It was a group of persons whom he felt very close to," Kellier continued.

A sombre-looking Kellier, who has been at the helm of the Ministry of Agriculture in the absence of Clarke, who travelled to the United States of America where he was receiving treatment for a back ailment, expressed shock after hearing of his colleague's passing.

Kellier was speaking at the official opening of the Bethel Town Agricultural Cooperative Society sorrel drink processing facility in Westmoreland last Thursday afternoon.

The project is a joint effort between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and the Bethel Town Agricultural

Co-operative Society.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who was slated to deliver the keynote address, was forced to cancel her visit upon hearing news of Clarke's death.

Her speech was read by Kellier, who apologised for her absence and explained that she was locked in an emergency meeting in Kingston discussing Clarke's death.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Donovan Stanbury, who was also in Westmoreland, highlighted some of Clarke's accomplishments during his tenure at the ministry.

"His stint is not only characterised by its length but by solid achievement," Stanbury argued.

He listed the establishment of the agro parks and the hammering out of the Sugar Transformation Programme among the highlights of the jovial Clarke's stewardship.

Stanbury said he was always amazed at Clarke's "ability to pay attention to the smallest of farmers".

"On his jouneys from St Elizabeth into Kingston, it is very rare if Minister Clarke takes a straight journey. He would deviate and go into the bushes and the crevices and the corners of Jamaica and he would tell me Monday morning, 'Boy Donovan, I see a piece of sorrel or a piece of onion, you know'. So there would hardly be anything we could tell him happen anywhere that he would

not have known by being there on the ground," recounted Stanbury.

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