Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry (left); Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society; and Custos of St. Andrew Patricia Dunwell sample fish at the 14th Annual Eat Jamaican Day Expo, held at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Headquarters in Kingston on November 22.
The message of eating Jamaican is worth repeating says, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Donovan Stanberry, who noted that eating Jamaican is about promoting Jamaican food to our people, and to our tourists, as well as making a conscious decision to purchase local produce in the supermarket. This, he said, can make a significant difference to rural development and put more money in farmers’ pocket.
Speaking at the 14th Annual Eat Jamaican Expo, held at the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Headquarters in Kingston on November 22, Stanberry said, “We have to start that process of true independence, and as far as I am concerned food security is one of the most important facets of true independence.”
The permanent secretary said that there is no economic activity that has a greater multiplier effect than money that is made in farming, and lamented Jamaicans’ preference for things which are foreign.
Stanberry said that the Eat Jamaican campaign has to be part and parcel of the initiative necessary for the reorientation of Jamaicans’ psyche and noted that many of the developed countries that transitioned from an agrarian society to an industrial society did so through increased productivity in agriculture.
In making reference to the worldwide food crisis of 2007, where net food-exporting countries banned exports, Stanberry said that this experience has taught us that strategically it is not good sense to depend on other countries for our staples.
“In Jamaica, we have done extremely well in the last 14 years to reverse that, not only from the standpoint of people’s psyche being changed gradually, but also from the supply side in terms of increased agricultural production.”
This increase in agricultural production, the permanent secretary, attributed to the hard work of the 230,000 farmers, 75% of whom only own 15% of the land averaging less than one acre, who ensure that we are fed.
Stanberry further noted that there is a connection between the high crime rate, incidences of urban decay and the neglect of agriculture and stressed that rural development was not going to happen unless there are sustained economic activities in our rural spaces.
When we support local agriculture, and the Eat Jamaican Campaign, we are deliberately providing a basis for economic expansion in our rural spaces, he emphasised.
“The quantum of food that is consumed in our hotels and the tourism sector, generally, is sufficient to stimulate and expand agricultural production across Jamaica if we are deliberate in making the linkages between the farm and the hotel sector,” said Stanberry.
He said that all the fundamentals to make rural life prosperous and make rural spaces improved and increased with economic activities were in place.
Stanberry expressed appreciation that the institutional framework is now in place for the Tourism Linkage Council, but said it was time to move from the talk to the reality as that linkage could increase agricultural production several folds.
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