THE EDITOR, Sir:
On reading Christopher Serju's article 'Let's take Eat Jamaican campaign seriously' (Sunday Gleaner, September 2, 2012), it brought home the point that the 'message', as useful and necessary as it is, is NOT focused. The situation has to be taken into context, and for it to be successful, a system has to be in place, such that the following are known:
What is the demand for the product(s) by the many end-users, at different periods.
How much is being produced, when, where and at what price?
Will the supply be reliable and of consistent quality and price to satisfy demand?
At present, the agriculture sector is not organised to reliably respond, with the result that farmers produce without having accurate information on demand. The result: excess production leads to gluts and lower prices, and the setting up of farmers' markets to alleviate the situation.
Disillusioned farmers reduce or stop production, and the situation is reversed, leading to shortages and high prices - and the cycle continues.
Change will only come when an efficient and effective system is in place to inform the questions asked.
Ad hoc or Band-Aid approaches will not significantly lower the food-import bill or see Jamaicans eating more of what we grow.
Having responded to your observation/query, I am still hopeful that a reliable data-collection, analysis and market information system will be established to facilitate the development of a vibrant and viable agriculture sector.