Editorial

Avoid the negligence that led to Denbigh debacle

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

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It is absolutely staggering that the organisers of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), should be shamed into meeting basic health standards in order for the event to be staged this year.

Staggering because it is often trumpeted that agriculture is one of the country's economic platforms in the quest to attain growth, progress and prosperity. Indeed, this position is true, yet we now have to grapple with this obvious lack of vigilance on the part of the JAS.

That the Denbigh show ground in Clarendon was cited by the local health department for several breaches of the health regulations, including vendors preparing meals without food handlers' permits, dysfunctional toilet facilities, and active mosquito-breeding sites, is an indictment on the organiser and a demonstration of the malignant keep and care policies, if there were any at all, being conducted to keep one of our most noted showpieces in good stead.

Denbigh holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many Jamaicans who annually trek from far and wide to partake in this showcase of our agricultural prowess. As such, the JAS, through its management team, should have been monitoring, during the course of any given year, to ensure that the show ground is kept tidy and indeed safe while robustly complying with the health regulations as prescribed by law.

The JAS needs to appreciate the fact that people pay their hard-earned money to come out during this unique period of our Independence celebrations to view for themselves the advancements made in agriculture and to partake in the many other offerings, including Jamaican culinary delights. As such, those patrons should not have to worry about risks to their health.

That said, we are happy to learn from the medical officer of health for the parish that the JAS has met the minimum public health standards that formed part of an agreement brokered in June of this year. But why stop at the minimum public health standards?

It is a crying shame that after 55 years of self-government the prestigious name of Denbigh has been sullied by inaction and the inability of those in charge to come to grips with the importance of what this show really means for the nation. The name Denbigh should be one vested with excellence and not one which comes under the scrutiny of any health department.

That action to remedy the health breaches of the show ground were rapidly undertaken only enforces the point that if a proper maintenance schedule was in place it would not come to the situation where the organisers had to be slapped in the face before the populace.

Denbigh is ours, it is as Jamaican as it gets, and it must, at all costs, be protected and treasured.

Let us celebrate Jamaica 55 with the understanding that it is the people and their safety which matter most.

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