- Several booths were mounted showcasing high quality local produce.
- Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, said that the campaign is a concerted drive towards the development of the country’s agricultural sector.
- The Eat Jamaica campaign is in keeping with efforts by the Government to reduce the country’s US$1 billion food import bill.
The East Lawn of King’s House was abuzz with activity on Monday, November 25, as scores of persons turned out to participate in the ‘Eat Jamaican Day’ 10th anniversary celebration.
Several booths were mounted showcasing high quality local produce, while patrons were able to access valuable information on the benefits of eating locally.
Organisations involved in the exposition included: the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Social Development Commission (SDC), Banana Board, Coffee Industry Board, Jablum, National Irrigation Commission, T. Geddes Grant Agriculture, Hampden Estate Gold, among others.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, said that the campaign is a concerted drive towards the development of the country’s agricultural sector.
“When we eat what is grown locally by our local farmers, we support them, increase their income, increase their ability to care for their families, expand the economy of their local rural community and consequently expand the growth of the wider national economy,” he said.
Mr. Clarke informed that since the campaign was launched in 2003, Jamaica has become self-sufficient in the production of chicken meat, pork, and eggs. He noted that significant strides have also been made in the production of Irish potato and animal feed.
“Since 2003, we have moved consumption of local Irish potato from below 40 per cent to some 80 per cent today and we are well on our way to 100 per cent self- sufficiency by 2015.
“While it is true that a significant proportion of the animal feed we use is still imported, today, through our Agro Parks programme, we have commenced the local cultivation of sorghum to substitute for imported animal feed and we have set ourselves the target of increasing our hay production,” he stated.
The Eat Jamaica campaign, the Minister said, is in keeping with efforts by the Government to reduce the country’s US$1 billion food import bill. “We wish o reduce that exorbitant bill and to increase our disproportionate Agricultural Export Earnings (US$279 million). The trade gap is too wide,” he stated.
He said that while it is not possible for Jamaica to grow everything that is consumed in the island, “there are tremendous benefits to eating local produce and expanding our import substitution thrust.”
“We utilise events like Eat Jamaican Day and Eat Jamaican Month, to strengthen our on-going public education and awareness programme. I think the campaign has stirred our recognition of that fact and has indeed found resonance among the population. Since 2003 some things have changed, and despite the challenges, there have been some improvements,” he said.
Minister Clarke said he looks forward to a time when Jamaica, like some of the more developed countries of the world, has greater levels of food self-sufficiency and security, and a higher level of human development index.
In his brief remarks before reading a proclamation to declare November 25, as ‘Eat Jamaican Day’, Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, stated that the agricultural sector remains an industry towards national development.
During the ceremony, several individuals and organisations that have served in various aspects of the agricultural industry were honoured
The annual ‘Eat Jamaica Day’ forms part of activities to observe November as ‘Eat Jamaica Month’.