Stanberry calls on Jamaicans to eat local foods
Jamaicans are again being encouraged to consume more locally grown crops, in the effort to reduce the country's food import bill and minimise the likelihood of lifestyle illnesses associated with non-communicable diseases.
The call came from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, during the 14th staging of the Eat Jamaican Day exposition, held on the grounds of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Headquarters in St Andrew, on November 22.
"If we disaggregate the food import bill [it shows that] a third of the things we import every year are things that we can do without and live healthier. A significant portion of that bill constitutes processed foods, snacks laced with sugar, laced with salt, which are now having the impact of a silent crisis and lead to non-communicable diseases," he said.
IMPACT AND STRAINS
Stanberry pointed out that healthier food choices will assist in minimising the impact and strains associated with non-communicable diseases on the country's health sector.
"So, from a nutritional and health standpoint, eating what you grow makes sense. It is something that we have to keep preaching, because not only are we killing ourselves slowly with the sugars and salt from these imported products, but there is also the crisis of low coverage of health insurance," he said.
Turning to the importance of the Eat Jamaican Campaign, the Permanent Secretary said it is necessary for the deconstruction and reorientation of the psyche of some Jamaicans who believe that "once the thing comes from overseas, it is automatically better".
"I think 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 standpoint of the supply side in terms of increased agricultural production and the fact that we have been able to do that against so many odds," he argued.