MAY PEN, CLARENDON:
The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) celebrated its fifth anniversary of Eat Jamaican Day at the Denbigh Showground in Clarendon on Tuesday.
The function, which officially started at 11 a.m., was under the distinguished patronage of Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall and Lady Hall.
Invited guests, Mike Henry, minister of Transport and Works, Dr Christopher Tufton, agriculture minister and Roger Clarke, shadow minister for agriculture were absent, as the day coincided with Parliament's vote on the retention of the death penalty.
"Food security will not be left hanging," quipped Senator Norman Grant, JAS president, after announcing the reason for the absences.
61 per cent imports
In his address, Senator Grant said imports now accounted for 61 per cent of Jamaica's food consumption but that there was a resolve to reduce this by five to six per cent.
The feat, he said, would be achieved in five years by reducing the figure by one per cent each year.
He said the country needed to "re-establish the fact that Jamaica is an agricultural country and celebrate the glory of the Jamaican cuisine culture and re-awaken the appetite for production and attracting new farmers to the sector".
Grant also spoke of the JAS working with the agriculture ministry to formulate policies and programmes to this end.
The Governor General said Jamaica's main problem was that people grow what they do not eat.
He said bananas and sugar cane were mainly grown for export and when natural weather systems like hurricanes, which have become more frequent in Jamaica destroy these crops the lands were usually left idle causing huge losses.
He said Jamaicans would have to be persuaded that Jamaican foods were the finest and that farmers and consumers had to be in sync. The event also saw many sponsors and food companies showcasing their products.
The JAS also honoured stalwarts in the agriculture sector with gold medals.
The three awarded were 89- year-old Charles Graham for over 70 years of service, Jasmine Holness, for her work in livestock research and development and Headley Forbes, for over 50 years of continuous service.
- Angella Chin