LETTER OF THE DAY - 'Made in Jamaica' must mean high quality in 2014

Published: Tuesday | December 31, 2013 Comments 0

THE EDITOR, Sir:

As we prepare for what will be a difficult year, we have to think how as a nation we are going to provide the goods and services locally and globally to extricate ourselves from this economic morass and indebtedness. This means that the goods and services made in Jamaica have to be able to compete successfully.

I visited the Arts and Crafts Fair at the Forestry Department and was pleased to see and purchase some of the highest-quality handmade ceramics, woodwork, and locally grown orchids. The thing is that while some of the exhibitors had the 'made in Jamaica' sign, some did not. This also links with a comment made by an executive of the Tourism Product Development Company about the issues of the transformation of crafts and craft markets in the tourism sector. If we do not change with the times, the times will change us.

Merchants are able to mass-produce products in China and India which overwhelm the local craft products in terms of price but also sometimes in terms of quality. Some of the local craft products are innovative, but others are still reproducing old-time designs whose shelf life has long passed. How, then, do stakeholders in these sectors find a way to produce the high-quality products needed and provide much-needed employment at the same time? There should be many opportunities as we welcome our two millionth visitor this season.

We also have lessons for our ailing entertainment industry in the complex process that brought Tessanne Chin to be winner of The Voice. We need to develop an understanding of a process which has been in train for more than a decade as we tend to focus on products and outcomes with no reference to the process which makes this possible. Overnight success is not likely in the entertainment industry. It requires hard work, talent, discipline, strategic thinking, and use of technology.

Success in 2014 is going to depend on our rising levels of productivity and competitiveness; a mindset of excellence; accurate knowledge of the willingness for collaboration among government, private and non-governmental organisations; and reduction of violence and corruption. We have to create a 'made in Jamaica' which stands for high quality.

Hilary Robertson-Hickling

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