KINGSTON — The Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) has launched its first major in-store project to give momentum to the promotion, distribution and consumption of domestic agricultural production.
The pilot project was unveiled at one of the larger Corporate Area supermarkets and outlets for fresh fruits, vegetables and ground provisions, Michi Super Centre, Thursday (November 24), to increase the accessibility of “high standard, locally grown products.”
The supermarket has been designated a “JAS preferred retail outlet”, under the society’s Certification of Agricultural Produce Programme (CAPP)
Officially launching the project, JAS President, Glendon Harris, said that the facility was a practical expression of the theme, ‘From land to mouth, eat what we grow’.
“Today is indeed a tremendous occasion for the farmers of Jamaica, as this is a practical and deliberate channel to distribute quality agricultural produce at the JAS official preferred retail outlet, Michi Super Centre,” he said.
The launch coincided with the eighth anniversary of the ‘Eat Jamaican’ Campaign, undertaken by the JAS to encourage Jamaicans to support local production.
“With the theme ‘Grow what we eat, eat what we grow’, we have laid the foundation to ensure that local agricultural produce is deemed as priority for consumption,” Mr. Harris said.
He emphasized that critical elements of campaign included strict adherence to quality standards, as mandated by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ).
"As a result alliances have been forged with the Bureau of Standards, through the Certification of Agricultural Produce Programme, with the objective of ensuring that our produce is of a recognized quality and is safe for distribution and use,” he explained.
He noted that the programme also involved the training of farmers to recognise, appreciate and practice appropriate standards.
“Farmers, who have been trained and certified under the BSJ’s Certification of Agricultural Produce Programme, now have a direct market for their produce and are able to offer this to our consumers,” he stated.
The International Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, (IICA) has been a partner in promoting the development and competitiveness of Jamaica’s agricultural production, and its Rural Development Specialist, Shauna Brandon, explained that in recent years, the quality of domestic agricultural production has been a major factor in the achievement of price competitiveness of local produce.
She said that another important factor appeared to be increased productivity, coupled with favourable conditions which contribute to increased output, both in terms of quantity and quality.
Six years ago, by way of a Proclamation by the Governor General, the first ‘Eat Jamaican Day’, November 25, was declared for annual observance.
According to the JAS ‘statement of commitment’, a main pillar of the ‘Eat Jamaican Campaign’ is to encourage the Jamaicans to eat local products, with the requirement that the products are safe, wholesome, of excellent quality and is produced by an environmentally friendly process.
Although the Association’s main focus of this year’s celebrations will be on ‘Eat Jamaican Day’, other activities have been organized embracing youth in agriculture to promote agriculture and agro-processing, as profitable business opportunities with significant potential.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Reporter