Senator Prof. John Spence


Prof. John Arnott Spence served as an Independent Senator during the 3rd, 4th and 5th Republican Parliaments (1987-2000).

Prof. Spence was born in St. Vincent on July 15, 1929.  He is best known for his tireless defence of agriculture during his tenure as an Independent Senator in the Parliament from 1987 and continuing for three consecutive terms.

He possessed a long list of academic achievements starting with his B.Sc. Honours degree in Botany in 1951 and a Ph.D. in 1961, both from the University of Bristol.

Prof. Spence was also a recipient of the Chaconia gold medal in 1980 in recognition of his service to the public, through agricultural advocacy, and academia.  His many achievements include his election as Fellow of the Caribbean Academy of Science in 1990 and Prof. Emeritus of Botany of UWI in 1996.

His invaluable expertise, wide-ranging knowledge and experience in agriculture saw him positioned on many boards such as Palo Seco Agricultural Enterprises Ltd; CARIRI (1977—1981); the Cabinet-appointed committee that established NIHERST; CAB International (1990-1995); the Association of Professional Agricultural Scientists of Trinidad and Tobago (1991—1995); the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources of FAO (1988-1991); the USA Academy of Sciences Committee on Managing Global Genetic Resources (1986—1992); the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia (1978—1984), and CARDI (1975-1981).

His consistent dedication to the agricultural sector also comprised four years as a plant pathologist in the Ministry of Agriculture, 26 years as a Lecturer and Professor of Botany at The University of the West Indies, six years as Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and eight years as Head of the Cocoa Research Unit, after retiring from UWI in 1989.

He will long be remembered for his determined belief that successive governments should do all in their power to sustain the agriculture industry in order to promote national food security.

Prof. Spence passed away on March 6, 2013