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Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has cited the influence of media and travel experiences of Jamaicans, as the major causes for negative attitudes toward local foods.
Addressing the launch of a hydroponics project at the Knockalva Agricultural School, in Ramble, Hanover, on September 17, the Minister said that the changing tastes of Jamaicans over time, towards imported items, as opposed to local items; changes in supply and demand, and other environmental conditions, have had devastating effects on the island.
He said that more often than not, people do not have control over a lot of the factors that affect availability of a number of foods and other items, but as a nation, “we do have control over our capacity to respond to the changes, by looking at the local options available.”
“If we are honest with ourselves, I believe that we must accept that over the last 12 to 18 months, we have demonstrated that we are, as a country, as a people, not able, and do not possess the capacity at this point in time to respond to the challenges that we have faced over the period. In other words, we are unable to provide in totality, the local options that are required, in order to meet the demand that we have as a people and as a community,” he added.
Dr. Tufton said the fact is that Jamaicans have allowed themselves to give preference to imports as opposed to local production, and this attitude has become a mindset.
“And, it’s caused by a number of things, it is not necessarily caused by us; it’s caused by the influence of mainstream media, it’s caused by our exposure to travel, so you aspire to be like the lifestyles of persons living in the developed world,” he pointed out.
He emphasised that this attitude is something that “we have to change as a people,” adding that any change that is to take place, whether in lifestyle, as it relates to preferences, consumption patterns, or in acquiring new techniques to develop the production and productivity levels in agriculture, any such change is better galvanised at the level of the young people of the nation.