Hey everyone, my good friend Kathryn Chin See wrote this guest post, give it a read and comment below:
“I want to #eatJamaican” was the opening line of a conversation that led to this post. Dmitri decided that he wanted to create a meal plan for 30 days that would include only Jamaican grown livestock and crops (see his previous post – Eat Jamaican for 30 Days). I told him that this was an easy task and began to list out the things that were available to us, grown locally. I shared my experience of buying a great quantity of fruits and vegetables from the Coronation Market in Downtown, Kingston, how inexpensive it was… and the fact that Jamaica really has no reason to import food items. His response was “well, let’s prove it”…
Jamaica has been blessed with vast land space and fertile soil with which we may grow and harvest crops, and raise livestock as food. Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish and seafood of many types… Fruits, vegetables/ground provisions, including nuts, herbs and spices… all grown right here in Jamaica, available to us all on the local market. So… the question is – why do we import food items?
To this day, it still baffles me… WHY does Jamaica import bananas? …bananas? REALLY THOUGH?
Some will use the excuse that local farmers are unable to supply enough to satisfy local demand, others may tell you that the imported goods are of a better quality. While these arguments may hold some truth, the reality is that we are greatly influenced by what First World cultures do, and because North America eats strawberries, blueberries, cottage cheese, Hillshire Farms deli meat and all sorts of other things… we have to ‘keep up with the Jones’.
Buying locally gives farmers the opportunity to make a larger profit to invest in more land, machinery and labour to produce larger volumes for the local market. The colloquial phrase ‘one hand wash the other’ comes into play here – consumers demand more from local farmers (increase purchases), local farmers then need more resources to supply increased demand, more jobs are created as labour is needed, these newly hired labourers take away from the unemployment rate and contribute to the circular flow of income in the country – everybody benefits, TRUST ME!
How are we going to then ensure that local farmers get more business, since their biggest competitors are imports? If the government banned (*not taxed higher, but made illegal) the importation of goods that are grown/produced locally, then people would stop trying to live above their means and would be forced to #buyJamaican. Think about the money you would save buying
locally, not having to pay the import duties and taxes that are tacked onto those goods, and how much healthier you would be by not consuming the chemicals and preservatives if you #eatJamaican.
There’s also an economic benefit to #buyJamaican #eatJamaican – in this time of ‘recession’ or economic struggle in Jamaica, great effort should be places of increasing exports, decreasing imports and encouraging investments from foreign entities to decrease our trade deficit (Balance of Trade – the monetary difference between imports and exports, essentially). Over time, ceasing importation of food items, and increasing exports of local produce, will aid in achieving a trade surplus and give the country the ability to pay its debts without burdening tax payers greatly… essentially working towards economic growth.
No, it’s not just theoretical – putting it into practice will work. But, who is going to implement such a practice?
Where is the labour force going to come from to practice farming?
People put themselves in debt constantly because of university fees, because society now dictates that we all need to achieve a higher learning – associate, bachelors, and master’s degrees. Why? North American and European influence of course… again, we all have to ‘keep up with the Jones’. Nothing wrong with achieving higher learning, but what benefit is it to you or to your country if there are no jobs for you to put your degree to use, no way of earning the money to pay your student loan?
Every industry has its place in this country – banking, manufacturing, telecommunications, farming, tourism, you name it…but we need to strike a balance between industrial and corporate, allocating our human resources appropriately to the various industries that make up our economic activities. If everybody’s a doctor, a lawyer, a banker or the IT guy, who is going to grow/produce the food we need to sustain our bodies for those jobs?
We can’t all be corporate and that’s the reality.
An education is vital. I believe that all Jamaican should have access to primary and secondary (including 6th form/CAPE) education. However, university/tertiary education requires a certain level of mental and financial preparedness that many of us simply don’t have. As a result, I think half of the experience is wasted. Just because we complete the 3-4 year programme and graduate with a degree, to me, doesn’t mean that we received all that we were intended to take from the experience.
Honestly, I have no problem putting my Actuarial Science degree programme on hold, going to Clarendon, getting a piece of land and establish a farm on it, and learn those skills – learn about soil and irrigation, climate/environment control for optimized growth, operation, maintenance and repair of equipment, etc. – grow food for my family, my community and eventually the wider local market, until I can produce large enough volumes to supply the acheter cialis generique en belgique export market.
All those things require knowledge and skill, and human resource. Jamaica is full of employment opportunities, way and means of earning an honest living – but everyone wants to be a suit and tie.
Help your pockets. Help your health. Help Farmer Joe in St. Bess. Help Jamaica…
Kathryn can be contacted on Twitter: @KathrynChinSee or via email KathrynChinSee (at) Gmail.com