With food prices soaring on the international scene, the Government and the Opposition have united to insist on the need for Jamaicans to "grow what we eat and eat what we grow".
Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton was joined yesterday by Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture Roger Clarke in launching the latest Eat Jamaican campaign.
Inside Coronation Market in downtown Kingston, with vendors applauding enthusiastically, Tufton and Clarke underscored the need for Jamaicans to eat local produce, as they agreed that the Michael Manley-led People's National Party (PNP) administration of the 1970s had launched a similar scheme.
"Any initiative which encourages the Jamaican people to support local products has my total and unequivocal support," Clarke declared after the new 'Eat Jamaican' logo was unveiled.
"And, therefore, I want to congratulate the minister, the EU (European Union) and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) in bringing to the fore, once more, the importance of eating Jamaican," Clarke added.
While acknowledging the help of the EU and the FAO, which are spending US$8 million (J$672 million) on a food safety programme in Jamaica, Tufton also thanked the Opposition for its backing.
According to Tufton, the 'Eat Jamaican' campaign is a process designed to improve the lot of the more than 200,000 local farmers and Jamaicans, in general.
"Too often we have become so accustomed to have imported foods as part of our normal consumption patterns than looking at the local options that are available to us," Tufton said.
Look at quality
He accepted that, in some cases, imported items are available in the markets at lower prices than local produce, but urged consumers to look at the quality of the Jamaican produce while farmers seek to implement processes to reduce prices.
"We believe in the (agriculture) ministry and the Government that a large part of the challenges facing local farmers is the policy framework that has been implemented over the years," the minister said.
Tufton said the Government was prepared to focus on the need to convince Jamaicans about the value and utility of eating local foods.
The 'Eat Jamaican' campaign, which has received the backing of star athletes including Asafa Powell, Melaine Walker, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter and Brigitte Foster-Hylton, is to be taken islandwide through roadshows, a media blitz and other promotional activities.