Governor-General, the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall has issued a proclamation for November 25 to be officially observed as ‘Eat Jamaican Day’ each year.
In delivering the instrument to the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) at its ‘Eat Jamaican Day Festival’ held recently at the Denbigh show ground, Professor Hall indicated that the campaign to get more Jamaicans to support the local agriculture industry was critical to the future of the nation.
“This campaign has a most serious intent as in conjunction with the Bureau of Standards, what the JAS is communicating is that when you eat Jamaican you are also eating products of the highest quality. It also conveys what other countries know, that once those who produce eat what they produce then there is no need for tariff barriers even at the level of the of the World Trade Organization where it is curious that those who put up the barriers are the same ones who go to extreme lengths to protect their own local farmers,” he said.
Professor Hall said Jamaicans must observe the country’s agricultural roots and thanked the JAS for “spearheading this endeavour and conveying really in a serious way that Jamaica does produce a range of products and our own culinary skills are well known. The important point is to mobilize both the production, marketing and the skill to make the campaign a success”.
Meanwhile, President of the JAS, Senator Norman Grant noted that the Eat Jamaican campaign had emerged out of the need to solicit the support of citizens to choose quality local produce.
“The campaign has certainly since the time it began given good support to our farmers and it was not long after we started that the JMA (Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association) started the Buy Jamaica Campaign and in June of 2005 the JEA (Jamaica Exporters’ Association) came with the brand Jamaica campaign,” he said.
Senator Grant pointed out that the high levels of imports was still posing a challenge to local farmers.
“Statistics show that as of July, 2005 the value of our imports was estimated at some US$334 million while exports value a mere US$113 million creating a huge trade deficit. This speaks to the fact that we need to increase our production and our exports as well as our consumption of locally grown products and reduce our reliance on imports, we should only bring in what we cannot grow,” he said.
Senator Grant made reference to the current move by the JAS and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica to get local farmers better prepared for the global market place.
“One of the special features today is the unveiling of the seal of approval. A recognized seal which certifies that farmers meet local and international safety standards and regulations.it was conceptualized by both the Bureau and the JAS under the Certification of Agriculture Produce Programme (CAPP),” Senator Grant informed.
The initiative represents a collaborative effort among the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands; the Caribbean Agriculture Development Institute; the Rural Agricultural Development Authority; the Scientific Research Council; the National Environment and Planning Agency; Antilles Chemicals; Agrograce, and farmers. It is funded by the Ministry of Industry, Technology and Commerce, through the Bureau of Standards Jamaica at a cost of $2 million,” he informed.