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Chief technical director in the Jamaica's Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Monique Gibbs samples jackfruit wine along with (from left) Lenworth Fulton, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS); Owen Dobson, second vice-president, JAS; Christopher Emmanuel, CEO, JAS; and Victor Cummings, project manager, Lakes Pen Agri-Ventures, at MegaMart Wholesale Club in Kingston, Jamaica, on November 8, 2019. The occasion was the launch of Eat Jamaican Month under the theme ‘Grow What We Eat … Eat What We Grow’. (Photo: MICAF)

Jamaicans encouraged to buy local produce

Chief technical director in the Jamaica's Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Monique Gibbs samples jackfruit wine along with (from left) Lenworth Fulton, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS); Owen Dobson, second vice-president, JAS; Christopher Emmanuel, CEO, JAS; and Victor Cummings, project manager, Lakes Pen Agri-Ventures, at MegaMart Wholesale Club in Kingston, Jamaica, on November 8, 2019. The occasion was the launch of Eat Jamaican Month under the theme ‘Grow What We Eat … Eat What We Grow’. (Photo: MICAF)

Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) is encouraging locals to consume and utilise more Jamaican produce and products in order to grow and build Jamaica.

At the launch of Eat Jamaican Month on November 8, held at MegaMart in Kingston, Jamaica, Monique Gibbs, chief technical director at MICAF, noted that eating Jamaican produce and products directly supports the local agricultural industry.

“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 said while speaking on behalf of Minister Audley Shaw.

Monique Gibbs, chief technical director in Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries (Photo: Thread Reader)

In particular, Gibbs explained that families and local communities, as well as local businesses and manufacturing, are the beneficiaries when Jamaicans buy local produce, which ultimately leads to the sustainable growth of our economy. Another benefit of eating Jamaican, she said, is that it allows for the retention of local jobs, creates opportunities for more jobs, and saves foreign exchange.

“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,” the technical director emphasised.

She used the opportunity to commend MegaMart’s principal, Gassan Azan, for his investment in high-tech agricultural development with his Lakes Pen Agri-Ventures at the Bernard Lodge lands in St Catherine. She also urged other large investors to come on board and to work with small farmers in the mother farm-satellite farm relationship so that Jamaica can can increase its output of produce.

The chief technical director underscored the critical importance of revitalising and re-energising the agricultural sector, stating that it is the cradle of Jamaica’s economic development as it provides raw material for industry and supplies produce and products to other important sectors such as tourism.

The historical site known as Devon House, in Kingston, Jamaica, is also known on the island for its brand of I-Scream. (Photo: Foursquare)

Eat Jamaican Month observes and supports the “Grow what we eat, eat what we grow” campaign, now in its 16th year. As such, several activities are being held to celebrate the month including Eat Jamaican School Tours, climaxing on Eat Jamaican Day, November 25, with an exposition at Devon House in St Andrew.