Develop agriculture to advance Jamaica
THE EDITOR, Madam:
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be a lasting, negative one in Jamaica. We continue to depend on things like tourism that we have no control over and seriously ignore certain local developments.
The United States, which is our main tourism market, is in a quagmire with the pandemic, and Jamaicans in the tourism industry might be in for a rude awakening as we go after the dollars. Jamaica must be an agricultural society for it to be a truly independent country. Preliminary data compiled by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica showed that in 2018, US$116.88 million was used to purchase a combination of imported seafood such as fish, herring, sardine, mackerel, shrimp, and crab. In addition, chicken neck and back, beef, mutton, chevon (goat meat), wheat, rice, and other grains, as well as fruit and vegetable products, are among the top imported items.
Jamaica must learn to feed itself, but help is needed, mainly in the rural areas. We cannot feed ourselves if the Government continues to neglect the arteries of rural roads that hardly exist anymore. Farmers cannot operate with roads like these. Electricity and water must be made available in every nook and corner of Jamaica to stop the rural blight.
The railway is no longer operational, and that was a major help in many interior areas, so it is important to have drivable roads. The major cities and towns cannot absorb everyone who is seeking a job and a way out from the lack of opportunities in the rural areas.
We need the Government to ease the plight of these rural communities and ensure that there are things in place that can help in the agricultural productivity and provide employment for rural folks.