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Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen (right); President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Glendon Harris (centre); and First Vice President of the JAS, Norman Grant, inspect a prize bull at the 2010 Denbigh Agri- Industrial Show yesterday (August 1) in May Pen, Clarendon.

As the country celebrates 176 years of Emancipation from slavery, Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, is calling on Jamaicans to free themselves of the belief that only foods from overseas are good and best for consumption.

He said that Jamaica will never fully experience the joys of emancipation until "we fully subscribe to the motto: 'Eat what we grow, Grow what we eat'".

"I would dare to challenge anyone to name one agricultural item that we import that cannot be produced in Jamaica," the Governor General stated.

He was speaking on day two of the annual Denbigh Agri- Industrial Show on August 1 in May Pen, Clarendon.

The Governor General said it was fitting for the nation to acknowledge the farmers during the Emancipation period, noting that they embody the resilience and hard work of the ancestors. The country's farmers, he said, continue to feed the nation despite the challenges.

"Our farmers are undeniably very hard working people, who operate daily under varying weather conditions, and often exposure to very difficult circumstances.

"When we are asleep, you are out soldering away at your profession, and we welcome the opportunity to say 'thank you' for your sacrifice and hard work so that we can have wholesome, nourishing food on our tables," the Governor General said.

"I have seen farmers work miracles on small plots of land, in their back yard, on the hillside, on rocks and in gullies to feed their families and send their children to school. Your 'never-say-die' attitude is the essence of our Jamaican identity," he added.

Stressing the importance of agriculture to the nation's survival, the Governor General called on stakeholders to intensify efforts to protect the sector from man made and natural disasters.

He said options to be pursued must protect investors, minimise risks, make the sector attractive for big business, and allow for wide participation.

The Governor General further pointed to the need to increase research with a view to boosting yields, enhancing storage and shelf life of produce, diversifying production, among other things.

"The concept of agricultural research for development has gained popularity in the past five years. We have post secondary and tertiary institutions in this nation that can give leadership and I am sure this is already happening, but needs to be pursued in a more definitive and organised way," he stated.