Minister of Agriculture Karl Samuda has responded to whispers in agriculture circles that the ministry is moving to sever ties with the long-established Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).
Addressing the opening ceremony of the 63rd staging of the Trelawny Branch Association of the JAS Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show at the Hague showground in Trelawny, Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture Dr Fenton Ferguson called on Samuda to clear the air on the issue.
However, Samuda downplayed the issue, which Gleaner sources acknowledge has been causing jitters at the JAS, especially among workers.
"I want to say that there is some argument going around and it relates to the Jamaica Agricultural Society. And I am happy that you [Samuda] are here, because you may be able to speak to the issue. But what is being talked around is that the Cabinet of Jamaica has taken the decision to repeal the Jamaica Agricultural Society Act," Ferguson said as he raised the issue.
According to Ferguson, if the whispers were true, the Hague and Denbigh agricultural shows would be under threat.
But, in his response, the minister said the rumours were far from the truth and that the ministry would continue to support the JAS, so that the Hague and others, including the Denbigh show, would continue to be staged.
"I want to make it absolutely clear (that) one does not disconnect from an organisation that has led Jamaica's agricultural thrust for 123 years. Indeed, let me make it also clear that the JAS preceded the Ministry of Agriculture. It was the JAS on which agriculture was built, so no one could think of simply making a decision to disconnect from the JAS and the important role that it plays in the development of agriculture," Samuda further stated.