The Supreme Court will on Wednesday start hearing the case against the Lenworth Fulton administration regarding the handling of the process to elect a new president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).
The court action did not stop the JAS from staging another successful version of its annual Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show at Denbigh in Clarendon over the first weekend of August. However, it has created some amount of tension among farmers who are determined to replace the current leaders.
In late July, the court sided with dissident Westmoreland branch leader Ian Hill to stop the holding of an annual general meeting (AGM) announced for July 13 on the basis of the administration’s refusal to observe general rules for allowing an election of officers prior to the show, which was held July 30 to August 1 at Denbigh.
Hill said he brought the case against the current leadership of the JAS for failing to follow the rules of the society, in terms of electing its officials.
Hill contended, in an affidavit to the court, that the leadership of the society had failed to issue a prescribed notice period in time for the branches to deliberate and reach a final decision on who they should support in an election for a president.
He asked that the court set an order date, in accordance with the provisions of the by-laws pursuant to the JAS Act. He also wants nominations for the elections, which were delayed by novel coronavirus pandemic, to be reopened to accommodate more entrants.
The AGM was postponed twice in 2021. Fulton’s presidency would have ended by that time, after his three-year term ended, but was postponed because of the pandemic. However, the failure to hold the meetings gave his incumbency at least an additional year in office.
Fulton is an agriculturalist who has been serving Jamaican farmers for more than 30 years in various capacities, including CEO of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority; executive director, Jamaica 4-H Clubs; programme specialist, USAID; and managing director, COA Jamaica Foundation and Spring Garden Farms.
He is a graduate of the Jamaica School of Agriculture, now College of Agriculture, Science and Education, and Tuskegee University in the United States. He manages his farm in Lumsden, St Ann, while consulting with agribusiness operations.