KINGSTON — Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton, says the Eat Jamaican Campaign is an avenue to provide Jamaicans with healthy foods, while creating wealth for local farmers.
“I am sure you will all agree that we would rather encourage local spending with our farmers, than having to buy foreign exchange and send back money to support a farmer who resides overseas,” Dr. Panton said.
He said the Ministry has been focusing on the concept of import substitution, and encouraging the “eat what you grow and grow what you eat” local campaign.
“Essentially, what that is, is Jamaica moving towards a level of food security. The goal obviously is to ensure that we are able to feed ourselves, to able to develop wealth for our farmers,” Dr. Panton said.
He was speaking at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC) Regional Culinary Festival, on Friday, May 6, at the Chinese Benevolent Association on Old Hope Road, in Kingston.
Dr. Panton said it was important to change the mindset of the nation’s children towards agriculture. He stated that the Ministry has been trying to do this through the Jamaica 4-H Clubs and the School Gardening Programme.
“We all can utilise some small space, whether it be in the front yard or the back yard, and be able to plant something and eat what we grow towards sustainability,” Dr. Panton said.
Olympic gold medallist, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, endorsed the Eat Jamaican campaign, encouraging Jamaicans to make healthy food choices by eating local produce, fruits and vegetables.
“What we have here locally is very nutritious, and I must tell you that nowhere else in the world has the kind of foods we have here. So, I will be encouraging everybody to just tap into what the Ministry has been doing, by supporting the campaign,” Mrs. Fraser-Pryce said.
The Eat Jamaican Campaign is a $17.2 million joint initiative, involving the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the European Union (EU) and the Ministry, promoting the consumption of locally produced foods, specifically for increased production and productivity, while enhancing food security.
The campaign will be implemented across Jamaica over three months. It will also utilize a multi-faceted media approach, including a series of road shows, radio and television commercials, press advertisements and recipe and cooking competitions and displays.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter