Science and Technology is not about men in white coats mixing strange potions in a lab or about curious new gadgets. It is a way of life, and involves practices that pervade every aspect of our lives. One of the goals of the Science and Technology Conference is to eradicate the belief that Science and Technology is just for the academia, but is accessible and can be used by the average man in every aspect of life. Furthermore, these advancements are available locally and can be used to enhance the economic development of the region.
Monday, November 20 marked the start of the 20th Annual National Conference on Science and Technology, hosted by the SRC, at the Hilton Hotel. In recognition of 19 years of sensitizing Jamaicans to the usefulness of science and technology in their society, the evening’s events were quite apt: a celebration that showcased inroads made by combining science and technology with local resources, thus making a deep-rooted impact on the economic development of Jamaica.
This year, through CARICOM SM, the SRC aims to extend the use of Science and Technology to fulfill this goal at a regional level.
Caribbean community (CARICOM) chairman and Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. Keith Mitchell, delivered the main address. He described the areas through which regional collaboration for economic growth was possible. He pointed out that Science and Technology is a rapidly growing area, noting the impact on our lives in study, research, and entertainment. He also highlighted specifically, the disadvantage we face, in light of the digital divide between the developed countries in the north and the developing countries in the south, and hence how the use of ICT can transform our region into an information society.
He further stated that future developments depend on our ability to leverage Science and Technology to become more competitive in the world economy. The role of the CSM is to promote the integration needed for the Caribbean to produce at a globally competitive pace. CARICOM therefore has several strategic goals to enhance our region’s global competitiveness. The strategies involve methods of planning, managing and implementing the widespread use of ICTs in various areas of community life. The main objective, however, is to have Science and Technology become a popular norm in our society, that is, to create an environment in which persons in the academic field, on the farms, and in the factories can access, utilize and share information, for sustainable development.
The theme for the conference this year promotes a regionally united approach to science and technology: Science and Technology for Economic Development: Impacting the CARICOM Single Market (CSM).
The goals are many, and begin with connecting villages with ICTs, spreading information among scientific research centers, farms, schools, health centers and local government. Meeting these goals will enable individual and collective opportunities for leadership, private sector, and other stakeholders in the Caribbean, thus creating lifestyles in the region that reflect science and technology at work. This, among others, can enable the Caribbean to take its place in the world at large.
The Scientific Research Council of Jamaica (SRC) will continue to demonstrate how best to infuse our local resources with science and new technologies available. They have a wealth of research and information on the innovative ways in which science and technology can be used with local resources. The annual conference continues on November 22-23, with sessions discussing publications, research, and even West Indies cricket.
Fae Ellington, who acted as compère for the occasion kept the visitors updated with humorous injections about our culture and local names for dances and plants that were part of the presentation. She was a subtle reminder of the great value of our natural, local products, despite being developed and value added through technology. The ceremony also included the use of local talent - the Ashe Assemble. They were at full tilt and gave a spirited and zippy performance of both contemporary and more traditional songs and dance. They stood as testimony to local products being able to achieve success, both in the region and overseas.
The opening ceremony preceded an exposition in which products already on the market were highlighted, for instance, Ebony Pride assortment of preserves and new products pitched such as ginger bites and dehydrated fruits. In general, valuable natural products from our natural resources that can become viable commercial ventures were on display. They ranged from essential oils and nutracueticals to waste water management measures and agro-produce.
The ideas generated and modeled by the SRC have shown that Science and Technology is not only viable to large corporations, but also to every person in the society. When applied to daily use, it could become a profitable and unique venture. Indeed, this season, we could try for a fully Jamaican taste by taking an Otahiete Apple Fruit Cake or a Sorrel Cake to the dinner table instead of a traditional Christmas pudding.