Eat Ja­maican to grow Ja­maica – Collings

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS -

PER­MA­NENT SEC­RE­TARY in the Min­istry of In­dus­try, Com­merce, Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries An­drene Collings has un­der­scored the im­mense po­ten­tial eco­nomic value of the Grow What We Eat ... Eat What We Grow cam­paign.

She says that every Ja­maican can con­trib­ute to this cam­paign by tak­ing part in sim­ple, ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Buy­ing more Ja­maican, eat­ing more Ja­maican and ex­port­ing more Ja­maican value-added prod­ucts will cer­tainly have a pos­i­tive im­pact on our econ­omy. Eat­ing Ja­maican is about sup­port­ing lo­cal agri­cul­ture. It is about spend­ing your money on fresher, tastier prod­ucts that have been grown or pro­cessed lo­cally in­stead of be­ing im­ported from thou­sands of miles away,” she told the re­cent launch of Eat Ja­maican Month.

Collings, who de­liv­ered the key­note ad­dress at the Ja­maica Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety’s (JAS) head of­fice at 67 Church Street, down­town Kingston, re­minded the au­di­ence that eat­ing Ja­maican was much more than a one-month event, but rather, a sus­tained com­mit­ment to long-term na­tional devel­op­ment.

She ar­gued that a sus­tained com­mit­ment by Ja­maicans to the cam­paign could help the coun­try re­tain jobs, cre­ate new ones, and main­tain for­eign ex­change sav­ings.

“With every dol­lar spent on a non-Ja­maican prod­uct, we lose about two to four times the devel­op­ment im­pact that would be gained from spend­ing that same dol­lar on lo­cally made prod­ucts.

“Ex­port more. Im­port less. Sup­port lo­cal in­dus­try. Buy Ja­maican. Eat Ja­maican. Clearly, we won’t reach where we re­ally need to be overnight, but we are mak­ing steady progress and will con­tinue to do a lot bet­ter when more Ja­maicans sup­port Ja­maican busi­nesses, whether in agri­cul­ture or in man­u­fac­tur­ing.”

Collings noted that the sig­nif­i­cant trade gap be­tween food im­ports and ex­ports con­tin­ues to be a cause for con­cern de­spite im­prove­ments in other ar­eas of trade.

She cited data from the Sta­tis­ti­cal In­sti­tute of Ja­maica which showed that the food im­port bill for Jan­uary to July 2018 was US$501.6 mil­lion, re­flect­ing a 5.4 per cent in­crease over the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod for 2017.

RU­DOLPH BROWN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Len­worth Ful­ton, pres­i­dent of the Ja­maica Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety (JAS), chats with An­drene Collings, act­ing per­ma­nent sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of In­dus­try, Com­merce, Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries, at the JAS’s launch of the15th an­niver­sary of the Eat Ja­maican Cam­paign 2018 at the JAS’s head of­fice, 67 Church Street, on Wed­nes­day.

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