Sat | May 27, 2017

Letter of the day: Denbigh show is all for show

Published:Monday | August 10, 2015 | 8:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I must confess that I did not go to the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show this year. However, I have read the glowing reports/coverage about the show in the print media. I have long been associated with Denbigh through my late father, Lloyd Gray, who was a proud member of the Jamaica Agriculture Society (JAS) and perennial livestock judge at the event.

I often wonder if the Denbigh Show is not just a perpetuation of the notion that Jamaica is a 'land of samples'. You tend to see all these impressive displays of fruits and vegetables. However, when you enquire about supplies, they are either limited or, at times, non-existent. In my opinion, the majority of the displays are not a true representative of what is available both in quality and quantity.

You also see many interesting products made from different produce. However, it seems as if the products do not make the transition to the supermarket shelves, and hence are only available at the show.

We need to fix our system so that the farmers can produce both quality and quantity. We cannot rely on the mercy of rainfall each year. That would only result in a constant cycle of feast and famine, as is the case now.

We have started putting in irrigation, but the process is way too slow. Loans must be made available specifically for this purpose. This would be an investment in the future.

Farmers must also start grading their produce. There is no uniformity. I require red ripe peppers. However, some farmers pick everything, whether green or immature, when reaping in order to get the maximum amount of products to sell.

With regard to the value-added products being displayed, some guidance need to be provided to these budding entrepreneurs. The products need to be analysed and determined if they have any market potential and, if so, guide them on how to make them market-ready. That way, they will be able to move from the pilot stage or move on to something more feasible.

I wish the Denbigh Show all the success going forward. It does a good job in showcasing our potential. However, that potential needs to be realised. Going to a food show and having a fancy display amount to nothing if you cannot fill the order placed by a buyer. We need to move from a land of sample to a land of ample.

ANDREW GRAY

Gray's Pepper