- The Jamaica 4-H Club continues to advocate for production and consumption of local food.
- Buyers urged to consider their support for local produce as an investment in the growth of the Jamaican economy.
- Jamaicans must become more actively involved in growing their own food.
Consumers have been encouraged to continue to buy local products, by Acting Executive Director, Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Ron Blake, in order for the country to reap long-term benefits.
Speaking to JIS News at the Lauriston/Thompson Pen Community 4-H Club’s Stew Festival on Saturday, November 2, at Brooklyn Park, Spanish Town, in St. Catherine, Mr. Blake explained that as a partner of the ‘Eat Jamaican Campaign’, being celebrated in November, the Jamaica 4-H Club continues to advocate for production and consumption of local food.
Addressing the issue of the prices of local produce, Mr. Blake is encouraging buyers to consider their support for local produce as an investment in the growth of the Jamaican economy.
“The expense is a short term one. In the long run, when you ignore local production, you are destroying the local industry. Once that happens, there is no competition for the imported product. At that time, prices are going to be erratic and higher than they are now,” he pointed out.
Mr. Blake said there is a recognition of the need for a higher level of competition between local and imported products, and Jamaicans must become more actively involved in growing their own food.
“To beat this, we need to get more people producing, and to expand local production,” he said.
Mr. Blake pointed out that local foods are the better choice, because of their health benefits. “The produce bought locally are healthier, because there is no need to preserve them for export. There is no need to treat them (with chemicals) to extend the shelf life,” he added.
He informed that the 4-H Club is also moving swiftly with projects that can impact the lives of young farmers.
“Our big project now is that we have selected 20 youngsters who will receive five acres to grow onions. We are hoping that by the next planting season, they will get into production,” Mr. Blake said.
He explained that these young farmers have no collateral and that the organization is currently courting corporate Jamaica to provide attractive loans to them.
The Stew Festival, which was well supported by residents of the surrounding communities, featured a number of activities, including the sampling of stewed meat and fruit dishes, bounce-about for the children, performances by the Troopers marching band and a gospel concert.
Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldier, Rohan King, emerged top chef in the cook-off in which entrants competed for the top prize using ingredients from a mystery basket. He upstaged last year’s champion, Ricardo Bennett, also from the JDF.
The Acting Executive Director also threw his hat into the ring with his creation, edging Claudette ‘Miss Lyttle’ Pious for third place.
The event was supported by exhibitors, including the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Consumer Affairs Commission, Social Development Commission, JDF, National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Jamaica Library Service, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), Mavis Bank Coffee, Victoria Mutual Building Society, Caribbean Choice Enterprise and Caribbean Dreams.