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Stop importing tamarind - Heaven

Published:Friday | July 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Heaven

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

OCHO RIOS, St Ann:

NEWLY RETURNED president of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce, Oral Heaven, has called for a halt to the importation of tamarind into Jamaica.

His call comes after residents in Ocho Rios reported seeing boxes of tamarind, produce of Thailand, on a supermarket shelf in the resort town.

The box, weighing one pound, sells for $1,281.50.

In response to Gleaner queries, Heaven expressed surprise that tamarind was being imported, especially in light of the sliding dollar.

"I find it very surprising that we would have such a thing as imported tamarind pods on our shelves here in Jamaica, especially at this time. If this importation of tamarind is happening, it must cease, immediately," Heaven told The Gleaner.

"We have a sliding dollar and a high import bill. It is foolhardy to add tamarind to our imports when our people are finding it a challenge to get US dollars to pay for necessary imports."

Tamarind is a popular ingredient in cuisines in sections of Asia and South America. In Jamaica, however, tamarind season means that tamarind pods are aplenty and many often go to waste, even as tamarind balls are a favourite of many people.

No need to import

But Heaven said there is absolutely no need to import it.

"I really wonder if our people, merchants and some business people are serious about getting our Jamaica to a place for all of us to live, raise families, and carry out our business. In these difficult times, why would we be importing tamarind? Why not (use the foreign currency) to create jobs for our people?" he asked.

Some residents who The Gleaner spoke with were appalled that tamarind is being imported into the island.

"It nuh matter wha di dollar value, wi nuh suppose fi a import tamarind," one woman responded, when asked for a comment.

"Me? Mi wud a neva buy it," another responded.

rural@gleanerjm.com