Presidential candidates vow to transform JAS

Observer staff reporter

Monday, June 18, 2018

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THE two candidates vying for the presidency of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) say they have the requisite skills to transform farming in Jamaica.

Glendon Harris, who is currently the second vice-president and a past president of the JAS, says he has unfinished business to take care of.

Harris, an agriculturist and businessman, said the organisation should be the driving force behind the farmers and their growth and development.

“My offering to the JAS is to lift the farmers from just believing that they go out with a machete, fork, probably on a donkey, climb the hill with a tear-up bottom pants — to the mindset that they ought to be producing in such a way that they can mechanise and ultimately be able to drive the Prado and the Pajero, because those are actually the vehicles that farmers need to go to their farms,” Harris told the Jamaica Observer during the launch of the 66th anniversary of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food show at Hi-Pro Supercentre, White Marl, St Catherine, on Friday.

The past president, who served for approximately three years before giving up his post in 2012 when he became mayor of Montego Bay, said there is a lot to be done.

“The JAS is the farmers' organisation and I have been a transformational leader; my principal background is business, outside of being an agriculturalist,” he said.

In addition to that, Harris said the 123-year-old organisation, that has fixed assets of approximately half a billion dollars, should be sustainable.

Harris added that farming should not be a last resort for people who are unable to gain employment.

Meanwhile, candidate Lenworth Fullerton, who is currently the president of the St Catherine Association of Branch Society (ABS) of the JAS, said he wishes to transform the society into an active, credible institution.

“My basic plans are to rebuild the institution through membership growth and development, to have a stronger JAS management that can work with government and the private sector to have a membership enhancement — which would include women and youth — to have a stronger lobby for things that are out there,” he said.

Fullerton, who was also the executive director of the 4H Club where he served for 12 years, and the CEO of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority for three years, said he will be seeking to address marketing, praedial larceny and the welfare of farmers.

He further explained that he would be lobbying for more farm roads, irrigation water, and domestic water supply for the farmers and their families.

Like Harris, Fullerton, too, said that the JAS should be a sustainable organisation.

Outgoing president, Senator Norman Grant said he has been encouraging both candidates to run decent and hard campaigns.

The election is expected to take place on July 11.

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