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LONDON — High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), His Excellency Anthony Johnson has urged Jamaicans in the UK to take control of the importation of ethnic foods into the country.

Addressing a community meeting in the midlands town of Walsall on the weekend, Mr. Johnson said that while Jamaicans continue to consume traditional foods in large quantities, other communities were benefitting from the related commerce.

“We have to start bringing in the food ourselves. A lot of the food that is being consumed is coming from other tropical countries and our farmers need the support of the Diaspora. Even a product like ackee, which is mostly consumed by Jamaicans, is now being planted in Asia, Africa and Central America. It is because they realise the tremendous market that exists. It is important that we take control of the market and ensure that our community benefits from this vibrant business,” he said.

The High Commissioner was speaking at a community meeting hosted by the Trelawny Overseas Relief Association (TORA), at the Afro Caribbean Centre in Walsall.

He brought the audience up to date with developments in Jamaica, including the reduction in crime, growth in tourism and agriculture and the repair of roads under the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).

Mr. Johnson encouraged those in attendance to consider investing in Jamaica, outlining the opportunities that exist for home ownership and business establishment.

“Over the years many people have been reluctant to return to Jamaica or to invest their money there because of the crime problem. The government is rapidly bringing that under control and we have seen great progress in restoring safety and security. We have an improving health and education system and while some things might not be as you are used to in Britain, we are making steady progress in development and you will find most amenities very satisfactory,”  the High Commissioner said.  

Earlier in the day, Mr. Johnson called on the Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Gary Clarke. They spoke about the contributions Jamaicans have been making to the town since the 1950s. Mr. Johnson also toured Walsall College and several community organisations.

Chairman of TORA, Rev. Moses Whyte said the organisation is working hard to assist school and hospitals in Western Jamaica. “We have been sending equipment to the hospitals and schools and we have seen the benefit that it has brought to the lives of the people there. The Jamaican community in Walsall has been very supportive over the years, but the leadership is getting older and we want the third and fourth generations to get involved, so that the wonderful work can continue,” he said.

Mr. Johnson was accompanied by his wife,  Pamela Johnson and Minister Counsellor for Diaspora Affairs at the Jamaican High Commission, Lincoln Downer.

                                                                  

By ANDREW CLUNIS, JIS Reporter