OFANA’s President, Ms. Norma Jarrett, in her address to the members and distinguished guests, underscored OFANA’s commitment to Jamaica’s Agriculture Industry, National Food Security, and to positioning the College of Agriculture Science and Education (CASE), as the premier tertiary agriculture college in the Caribbean and the world at large. The theme for the weekend celebration, “OFANA - Partnering with CASE in Pursuit of Excellence” emphasizes OFANA’s continued mission.
Jamaica’s Minister of Education, Youth and Information(MOEYI), Senator the Honorable Ruel B. Reid was the keynote speaker at the Saturday Night Gala. In his message, the Honorable Minister stated; “I am impressed by the fact that the Ole Farmers Association North America seeks ways to encourage, develop, enhance and sustain the agricultural industry.” He continued to share the fact that, “the MOEYI believes in fostering education and research, to benefit both the agricultural producers and leaders of today as well as those of the generations to follow.” The Minister further stated that he looks forward to another great year with support from the members of OFANA, who are committed to Jamaica’s agricultural education. In conclusion, Minister Reid stated, "Ms Norma Jarrett and her team, must be applauded for their efforts to convert the Diaspora’s sentiments and goodwill into systematic, sustained and purposeful action; your support as a donor and volunteer, are vital to the success of Jamaica’s agriculture industry. It’s a contribution that will pay dividends well into the future.” The minister was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Sharen Reid, as well as Dr. Grace McLean, Jamaica’s Chief Education Officer.
Chairman of the Board of CASE, Major George Kates, in his message stated, “The College of Agriculture Science and Education (CASE) is the only institution of its kind in the Caribbean. It has a proud history dating back to 1910 and OFANA is playing a major role in writing its history for future generations. Major Kates also an Alum, continued to highlight the fact that “The name OFANA is rapidly becoming a household name among the constituents of the College of Agriculture Science and Education in Jamaica. This is owing to the efforts being made by the passionate and benevolent graduates residing in North America, who continue to selflessly make bold efforts to uplift their alma mater and chart a path for success for current and future students. Recent efforts by OFANA, to provide scholarships for needy and promising students, and the construction of the Plant Tissue Culture Facility have significantly added to the visibility of the OFANA organization.” he concluded. He thanked OFANA on behalf of the CASE Board of Management, for its drive in providing scholarships for students at CASE; and expressed the need for continued funding of CASE’s infrastructure and technology, to keep abreast with the modernization of agriculture in Jamaica.
Dr. Derrick Deslandes CASE President and Honorary Ole Farmer, in his message stated; “It has always been a privilege for me to participate in this important occasion, (the AGM). The partnership between OFANA and CASE has indeed been strengthened over the last two (2) years. We will continue on that trajectory, to achieve common goals, create positive impacts on the lives of young people and ensure that our beloved college transforms into a world class institution we can all be proud of as alumni.” Dr. Deslandes assured the guests that he and his team commit to continue on the path, to building a strong institution that will cater to the needs of Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world. “This commitment cannot be possible without strong partnerships like the one we currently share with OFANA” he stated. “Over the years, OFANA has maintained a genuine interest in the activities of CASE, and the evidence is visible across our campus in the construction of the Bio-technology Laboratory, which will provide clean planting materials for our farmers, to ensure sustainable seed availability for crop production. Currently, there are twelve (12) proud students from the 2018 cohort on the campus, who are beneficiaries of well needed scholarships this year, all provided by OFANA; since 2012, OFANA has honored its commitment to assist needy students, in achieving their educational goals. The current cumulative value of scholarships awarded to CASE stands at Forty-One Thousand, Five Hundred US dollars (USD$41,500.00).”
Ms. Shamora Brown, CASE Student Body President, sent greetings to OFANA on behalf of the student body. In her message, Ms. Brown, equated OFANA to “God Parents.” “Words are not enough to effectively articulate the gratitude we feel for the many ways in which OFANA has contributed to the enrichment of our lives. The Plant Tissue Culture Lab you are establishing, is giving CASE a competitive edge, both locally and regionally; it will provide us with an opportunity to engage in more innovative research, as we seek to contribute to the development of the agriculture sector in Jamaica” she concluded.
A check for US $60,000.00 was issued to president Dr. Derrick Deslandes on May 29, 2017; the second installment check for US $40,000.00 was presented to him, on behalf of the college during this year’s Annual General Meeting, this represents a cumulative $100,000.00 donation in 12 months. During the presentation, Ms. Jarrett reminded the group, that “OFANA has committed to fund the Plant Tissue Culture Lab on the main campus at CASE, for an estimated cost of US $120,000.00; our fundraising drive continues, as we seek to raise much needed funds to realize our obligation to the college.”
Ms. Jarrett took time out to thank all the members of OFANA, the donors, advertisers and family members, who continue to support all of OFANA’s fundraising activities. “Together, we are doing great things for the deserving students at CASE, we are changing lives; upgrading CASE infrastructure and investing in Jamaica’s sustained food security. Please continue to assist us with our mission” she implored the audience.
Other distinguished guests in attendance included The Honorable Minister Robert Montague, an Alum of the college and current Minister of Transportation and Mining; CASE board members Canute Sadler and Eron McLean; Dr. Fritz Pinnock, President of the Caribbean Maritime University, Patrick Mitchell, Alum and President of Jamaican Cultural Connection / Orlando; Leo Gilling, Chair of the Jamaican Diaspora Education Task Force; Dr. Clivel Charlston, Alum and Head of Biomedical Research, at Meharry Medical College; The Baxter Families and Mrs. Dudley Wilson, honorees.
At the Saturday Gala, OFANA celebrated the rich heritage of one of the member colleges, the Jamaica School of Agriculture (JSA), and 4 of its numerous outstanding graduates. Collectively the Baxter Brothers: Samuel (1963); Stanley (1972); Lawford (1974); and posthumously, Hezron (1981); the only known siblings of four (4) brothers, to have graduated the college were honored. OFANA President Norma Jarrett, congratulated the brothers’ unique accomplishment graduating from the same Agriculture College, and for their professional and personal achievement as well as their genuine passion to give back to their communities and to OFANA. Hezron’s wife accepted the posthumous award on behalf of her late husband. The Baxter brothers were truly appreciative of the honor and conveyed their thanks and some memorable experiences of life on the JSA Campus.
During the business meeting, Election Chair Collin Burrell with Delrine Armstrong and Paulette McFarlene presided over the election of the new OFANA Executive Members. Norma Jarrett the outgoing President was re-elected as National President. The elected executive members completing the slate, included: Renford Williams, Treasurer; Dr. Terrence Johnson, Assistant Treasurer; Peterson Warburton, Secretary; Jurist Taylor, Assistant Secretary; Wendell Codner, Public Relations Officer. Region VPs: Atlanta – Donna Bredwood; Canada – Audrey Spence; Florida – Doreen Danvers, and Northeast - Jennifer Petgrave. Minister Ruel Reid congratulated the new executive, officers following the swearing – in ceremony, and wished them continued success.
At the Sunday Church Service, attendees were enthralled by the message of “Love” delivered by the Reverend Roy Robinson (Alum). The OFANA choir led by Vanetta James, added to the upbeat spiritual experience, with their musical renditions.
The weekend culminated with a festive, farewell Brunch, at which OFANA Honored Mrs. Dudley Wilson, a highly revered member of the Kitchen Staff at JSA. Many of the Alumni in attendance, shared fond memories of Mrs. Wilson’s maternal and compassionate contributions to their lives while they studied at JSA. Both Mrs. Wilson and Minister Reid were inducted into the Ole Farmer Fraternity, as honorary Ole Farmers.
Everyone experienced wonderful weekend of Southern Hospitality, thanks to Florida VP Doreen Danvers and her dedicated Planning team.
Ms. Jarrett thanked the Host Region for the memorable weekend, and announced that next year’s 13th Annual General Meeting will be hosted in the Northeast Region.
OFANA is incorporated under the US Internal Revenue Code, Section 501 © (3) and is operated through regional chapters throughout North America. Please visit us at our website at www.olefarmers.com.