Please allow me to commend writers Karen Abrams and Ima Christian, re article ‘In rich or poor countries innovation is hard work’, Stabroek Business, Friday, April 20. This brief and insightful article should be the basis for discussion and debate at all appropriate educational levels, be they private, public, secondary or tertiary.
The article highlights the key role of innovation in the development process. It recognizes that, even in wealthier countries, building and maintaining the capacity to innovate in public and private institutions is hard work. The writers aptly pointed out that creating a culture of innovation in developing countries will require a complete shift in thinking. In Guyana, this shift in thinking has to be captured foremost at the political, administrative, and managerial levels. This is absolutely necessary to support and instil innovative thinking among our technicians, mechanics, fabricators, scientists, engineers and other relevant personnel.
Editor, I cite two examples of innovation in the Berbice area. The first is the ‘cage wheel’ fitted to tractors mostly engaged in tillage for rice farming. This innovation by rice farmers allowed the tractors to develop more draft (pull) in muddy conditions. Today the cage wheel is an integral part of rice industry equipment, yet its development has been stymied owing to the unavailability of field tests and technical documentation. Such information is required to promote design improvements and salability locally and abroad. The second was in passenger and goods transportation whereby locals fabricated bus bodies on truck chassis. These buses
were the prime means of public road transport during the 1950s and 1960s. Today, these buses are out of service and the skills lost, suggestively owing to lack of recognition of that innovation. I hasten to add that had there been official recognition of that innovation public transport in Guyana would have been much improved.
In conclusion, I submit a few areas which are within local reach and which can contribute to the innovative process. These are proper maintenance and repair of equipment and infrastructure, fabrication of small tools and equipment, and research into medicinal plants.