Sun | Apr 21, 2019

Eat Jamaican to grow Jamaica - Collings

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Lenworth Fulton, president of Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), chats with Andrene Collings, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, at the JAS's launch of the15th anniversary of the 'Eat Jamaican' Campaign 2018 at the JAS's head office, 67 Church Street, on Wednesday.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Andrene Collings has underscored the immense potential economic value of the Grow What We Eat ... Eat What We Grow campaign.

She says that every Jamaican can contribute to this campaign by taking part in simple, everyday activities.

"Buying more Jamaican, eating more Jamaican and exporting more Jamaican value-added products will certainly have a positive impact on our economy. Eating Jamaican is about supporting local agriculture. It is about spending your money on fresher, tastier products that have been grown or processed locally instead of being imported from thousands of miles away," she told the recent launch of Eat Jamaican Month.

Collings, who delivered the keynote address at the Jamaica Agricultural Society's (JAS) head office at 67 Church Street, downtown Kingston, reminded the audience that eating Jamaican was much more than a one-month event, but rather, a sustained commitment to long-term national development.

She argued that a sustained commitment by Jamaicans to the campaign could help the country retain jobs, create new ones, and maintain foreign exchange savings.

"With every dollar spent on a non-Jamaican product, we lose about two to four times the development impact that would be gained from spending that same dollar on locally made products.

"Export more. Import less. Support local industry. Buy Jamaican. Eat Jamaican. Clearly, we won't reach where we really need to be overnight, but we are making steady progress and will continue to do a lot better when more Jamaicans support Jamaican businesses, whether in agriculture or in manufacturing."

Collings noted that the significant trade gap between food imports and exports continues to be a cause for concern despite improvements in other areas of trade.

She cited data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica which showed that the food import bill for January to July 2018 was US$501.6 million, reflecting a 5.4 per cent increase over the corresponding period for 2017.