Ja not lag­ging be­hind in sci­ence re­search

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & .COMMENTARY - Ja­son Cross Gleaner Writer

EVEN THOUGH Ja­maica is not lag­ging be­hind where sci­en­tific re­search and de­vel­op­ment are con­cerned, Minister of Sci­ence, En­ergy and Tech­nol­ogy An­drew Wheat­ley has called for more in­no­va­tive minds to be de­vel­oped in the is­land in or­der to boost the econ­omy, sim­i­lar to what hap­pens in coun­tries that en­joy First World sta­tus.

“We are not lag­ging be­hind. We have over the years pro­duced a num­ber of sci­en­tists, who have gone on to make tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tions in the ar­eas of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy. As a coun­try, we need to be­come in­no­va­tors. If you can look at what is hap­pen­ing around us, all the de­vel­oped coun­tries, they rely on sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy. They have in­no­va­tors to al­low them to have the level of suc­cess, as it re­lates to eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

Minister Wheat­ley was speak­ing to The Gleaner at the Sci­en­tific Re­search Council, for the launch of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Month, which will be in Novem­ber.

RAIS­ING AWARE­NESS

He said that peo­ple need to be made aware that it is not only tourism and baux­ite that at­tract growth and de­vel­op­ment.

“It (Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Month) is very im­por­tant be­cause we have to en­sure that the mes­sage is out there as to the im­por­tance of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy. We need to move away from be­liev­ing that it is only tourism and the baux­ite in­dus­try that can al­low us to grow,” the minister said.

Wheat­ley high­lighted that Ja­maica cur­rently has 50 per cent of the world’s nu­traceu­ti­cal plants. These he said, are in­dige­nous to Ja­maica, and per­sons should in­vest and take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in the sec­tor.

He also said that leg­isla­tive frame­work will be looked at that will make it eas­ier for per­sons to in­vest in the field.

“As a peo­ple, I don’t think we at­tach enough promi­nence to re­search and de­vel­op­ment, and so even though we have trained quite a num­ber of sci­en­tists, they leave to go over­seas to find greener pas­tures. We need to en­sure that we cre­ate the en­vi­ron­ment for our sci­en­tists to flour­ish,” Wheat­ley told The Gleaner.

“Sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy [is] one of the main pil­lars that will af­ford us the op­por­tu­nity to re­ally achieve true growth and de­vel­op­ment. We are look­ing at pro­vid­ing the leg­isla­tive frame­work that will al­low per­sons to in­vest in re­search and de­vel­op­ment. I also ask that the pri­vate sec­tor in­vest in re­search and de­vel­op­ment be­cause we need some level of fund­ing. Ja­maica is blessed in that 50 per cent of the 160 nu­traceu­ti­cal plants are in­dige­nous to Ja­maica. What we need to do is to cap­i­talise and use this op­por­tu­nity to re­ally pro­pel our­selves as a peo­ple.”

As a coun­try, we need to be­come in­no­va­tors. If you can look at what is hap­pen­ing around us, all the de­vel­oped coun­tries, they rely on sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

WHEAT­LEY

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