Agriculture is one of the main drivers in Jamaica’s economic growth. However, due to the underutilization and mismanagement of our natural resources and the lack of food security, we import over two billion U.S. dollars in food supplies, which constitutes a large part of our country’s expenditure. As a country with very lush, vegetated agricultural land surrounded by water, we must do a better job with protecting our environment, managing our water supply, supporting our farmers and, boosting food production. We need to create a system where food is available, affordable, the supply is sustainable.
Investment must be made in agricultural technology, research and education, modern applications, agro-processing, storage, and distribution. This approach must be inclusive of all prime agricultural lands in each parish, with full involvement of farmers and citizens. After satisfying local consumption the surplus will be exported to markets in the Diaspora. The savings from local production should be used in other sectors of our economy such as Health and Education.
To ensure food security for all, we will employ the following strategies:
- All unused land owned by the government will be put to production to satisfy all local consumptions and surplus will be packaged and exported.
- We must be self-sufficient in food production. The Rural Agricultural Development Association (RADA) will be the vehicle used to carry out this transformation, utilizing updated technologies with the full participation of all stakeholders, with the government as the lead sponsor.
- Within each parish, Food Banks will be established for the distribution of food to ensure public access. These Food Banks will work alongside private enterprises.
- The selling of imported products below the costs of local products will be banned.
- All food production initiatives must be linked to the hotels (tourism sector). The tourism sector must source local products before importing foreign food products.
- There will be no importation of foreign food products, except for in exceptional circumstances that necessitate the supply of foreign food products to the tourism sector or for medicinal purposes.
- Research and development must be utilized in our food production to achieve maximum nutrition benefits, the profitability of exports, and to reduce the frequency of imports. All efforts must be geared towards exporting to overseas markets, primarily where Jamaicans reside. Our food products must be branded for wider appeal. Marketing and promotion will play an integral part in making sure our products remain competitive.
- We will improve consumer protection and require high standards for food exports and aggressively protect the “Jamaican” brand in the international marketplace.