CARDI’s Executive Director expresses sympathy on the passing of the late Roger Clarke, Jamaica’s Agriculture Minister
It was a major surprise when I heard of the death of Roger Clarke, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica. It was not a state of being that I had ever previously associated with Roger. Then reality, along with the naturally accompanying sadness, seeped in. The Region has lost a stalwart. Someone, who was sincere, visionary, humorous and humble. Someone who made you feel very important even though you were positive that you had never met him before. That was the nature of the man. He subtly encouraged you to accomplish things that did not at first seem possible.
However, this sadness turned to pride for having had the opportunity to share moments, thoughts and vision with someone who had committed his private, business and political life to the development of agriculture in Jamaica and the Region. He recognised that a sustainable agricultural sector was critical to the Region having a vibrant economy and further, that the Region’s agriculture could best be served if each nation were to support and/or harmonise with each other’s actions.
It is that belief in the importance of regional unity that made him by far the Minister that has contributed the most to governance of the sector in the Region and its major activities. He recognised the need to fill the void when the Standing Committee of Ministers of Agriculture was disbanded. He moved to support the creation of the Forum of Ministers. Subsequently, in acceptance of the need for Ministers to be supported by ALL actors in the repositioning of the sector, he enjoined academia, business, youth and women to become Constituent Members of the Alliance for Sustainable Development of Agriculture and the Rural Milieu (The Alliance). He served as Chairman of this group for many years and nurtured it from strength to strength. During that period, he also fully endorsed the initiation and development of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA). Both the Alliance and CWA are now the major events in the agricultural calendar of the Caribbean.
As part of his vision for a vibrant agricultural sector in the Region, he believed in the supporting role of a strong regional agricultural research for development institution. In that context, Minister Clarke gave many years of unflinching and dedicated support to CARDI, both as member and Chairman of the Institute’s Board of Governors.
As we celebrate the life of this ultimate friend of regional agriculture, on behalf of the Directors, Management and Staff of CARDI and on my own behalf, I convey our deepest condolences to the wife, children, relatives and numerous friends of our beloved Minister, Roger Clarke.
May he Rest in Peace.