Buy more local foods - Grant
Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
In light of Jamaica's rising debt stock and an annual food import bill of more than $806 million, Senator Norman Grant has urged all Jamaicans to buy local food.
He encouraged Jamaicans to begin thinking of ways to start producing food items that are currently imported.
Grant was speaking at the Jamaica Agricultural Society's (JAS) 'Eat What We Grow, Grow What We Eat' campaign anniversary function, at the Denbigh Showground in May Pen, Clarendon.
"When you go into the supermarket, purchase local foods first, and then look at the imported ones with a view to produce them locally," urged Grant.
He said that agriculture was the heartbeat of the Jamaican economy. "Think about the jerk man, the higglers, the market trucks and a number of other linking industries that agriculture supports," said Grant.
"Agriculture has been the driving force behind some of the biggest emerging economies in the world. Brazil is a prime example of this, and so can Jamaica be," Grant said.
"I must commend the minister of agriculture (Robert Montague) for his enthusiastic support to the JAS, especially in a tight economic environment," said JAS president, Glendon Harris.
He urged support for local food consumption and food production through innovation, protection for farmers, availability of affordable capital and better marketing.
"We are in discussions with the relevant authorities in St James to transform a section of the Charles Gordon Market in Montego Bay into a wholesale farmer's market, with air conditioning and other modern amenities to reflect a First-World standard," said Harris.
He also suggested that the JAS would initiate discussions with the parish councils and municipalities to extend the farmer's market events across Jamaica.
"Let us eat what we grow and grow what we eat. But better yet, let us eat what we can and can what we cannot eat," said Harris.