- Eating local produce can have a positive impact on the nation’s economy, environment and health.
- The Minister emphasised that Jamaica does not wish to be threatened by food insecurity.
- The JAS President informed that this year, the focus is on celebrating the 10th anniversary of the campaign.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, says eating local produce can have a positive impact on the nation’s economy, environment and health.
“There are very essential reasons to ensure that we ‘grow what we eat and eat what we grow’. First of all, our economy depends on this. Whatever we do, we must seriously endeavour to decrease the US$1 billion food import bill. It is unsustainable. You can’t borrow money to buy food from abroad and that is one of the causes for the dollar to be sliding,” the Minister said.
He was addressing the launch event of the 10th anniversary celebration of Eat Jamaican Day, held on November 6 at the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) head office on Church Street, Kingston. Eat Jamaican Day 2013 will be observed on November 25 with a number of activities to mark the day.
The Minister emphasised that Jamaica does not wish to be threatened by food insecurity and as a sovereign nation aiming to become the place of choice to live, “we want to ensure that the kinds of foods we eat are wholesome and nutritious and that these foods are available in the right quantities.”
He pointed out that while the Eat Jamaican campaign has resonated with Jamaicans, the challenge is to ensure that it truly has an impact.
“Campaigns such as this one are important and essential to keep the message and the appeal alive. This Eat Jamaican campaign should not be taken lightly and its contribution in terms of social marketing and awareness building should not be undervalued,” Minister Clarke said.
In officially launching the day, the Minister thanked the JAS, the sponsors and the farmers, who are supporting the effort.
In the meantime, JAS President, Senator Norman Grant, observed that over the past 10 years, there have been greater awareness and definitive steps made by consumers to choose local produce and support the agriculture sector.
He further pointed to an incremental reduction on the rate of food imports, which can be attributed to the impact of the Eat Jamaican campaign.
The JAS President informed that this year, the focus is on celebrating the 10th anniversary of the campaign and the organisation will be bringing together major players within the local food sector to showcase Jamaica’s cuisine utilising indigenous foods and drinks.
Among activities for the Eat Jamaican Day celebration, will be a major exposition at King’s House involving organisations and agencies related to agriculture. There will also be a Farmers’ Cook Off; presentation of Eat Jamaican essay competition winners; and an awards function honouring individuals and organisations that have made valuable contributions to the campaign over the past 10 years.
“We are working with the supermarkets and different outlets in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture….to take this process forward. We want to provide supermarkets with certificates with the Eat Jamaican logo for them to display at their point of sale to show that they are supporting the local agricultural sector and they are helping the farmers to grow,” Senator Grant said.
The Eat Jamaican Day celebration is part of activities by the Ministry of Agriculture to mark ‘Eat Jamaican Month’ in November.