Tuesday, March 1, 2011


World and Olympics Champions Melaine Walker, Asafa Powell, Michael Frater, Nesta Carter, and Brigitte Foster admire the great Jamaican produce being sold by Maxine Jarrett at the Coronation Market today where they supported the 'Eat Jamaican' Launch. Looking on are Akhter Hamid, FAO Project Manager for the EU Food Facility, sponsors of the Project and Dr Jerome Thomas, FAO Representative for Jamaica, Belize and The Bahamas.


KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Government is placing agriculture on the public agenda with the launch of a national "Eat Jamaican" campaign aimed at increasing local production and encouraging consumers to make healthy choices by eating local produce, fruits and vegetables.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, who launched the campaign at the Coronation Market, downtown Kingston this morning has long been an advocate of the consumption of local foods. The Agriculture Minister unveiled details of the programme funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Minister Tufton said the three-month campaign valued at J$17.2M will entail a series of road shows across Jamaica. The road shows will feature singing competitions, food exhibition/tasting, and hotel cook-offs, he said. As part of consumer education, the campaign will seek to get consumers united behind the theme "grow what we eat, eat what we grow," in support of farmers, retailers, agro-processors and distributors, Minister Tufton added.

The Minister has also welcomed the endorsement of the “Eat Jamaican” message by six Jamaican World and Olympic Champions: Shelly Ann Fraser, Brigitte Foster Hylton, Melaine Walker, Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, and former World Record Holder Asafa Powell.

Dr. Tufton commented: “As we take this concrete step to achieve food security in our country, we are extremely grateful that the European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have partnered with us in funding this campaign to the tune of $17.2 million...”

“I am convinced that we have the potential to feed ourselves and dramatically reduce our food import bill. The Statistical Institute of Jamaica, STATIN, reports that up to the end of October 2010, Jamaica’s imports totaled US$661 million compared to US$667 million for the corresponding period in 2009. This is a decline of 1 percent and follows a decline of 7.4 percent achieved in 2009 over 2008...”

“Jamaica must increase domestic food production and substitute local foodstuffs for these increasingly costly imported items…”

“The performance of the agricultural sector from which the majority of rural folk earn their livelihood is directly linked to the quality of life and the state of the country’s development. Our farmers are indeed the cornerstones of rural life and the guardians of our traditions in villages spread across the country. We must ensure that they can continue to contribute to the vitality of the rural areas...”

Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi-Alemanni of the European Union to Jamaica, who are sponsors of the programme through the EU Food Facility commented on the excellent quality of Jamaican crops. “I am from Italy,” he said, “and we are very conscious about the flavour of foods. I was delighted to discover that Jamaica has such wonderful food…we have a Jamaican chef at home and my wife and I enjoy Jamaican dishes”. He commended Jamaica’s farmers for their diligence and the vendors at Coronation Market for bringing Jamaica’s crops to the public.

Other speakers were Dr. Jerome Thomas, Representative for Jamaica, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); Mr. Roger Clarke, Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture and Mr Glendon Harris, President, Jamaica Agricultural Society. The prayer was said by Rev. Dr. Roy Henry, Pastor, East Queen Street Circuit of Baptist Churches.

The gathering was treated to an amusing performance by the Eat Jamaican mascot ‘Doctor Bird’, and beloved comedic duo, Ity & Fancy Cat, who will be appearing on the Eat Jamaican Road Shows.

Backyard gardening is another strong component of the campaign with the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) making available vital information to householders and institutions which may want to start an agricultural project and embrace the message of making healthy food choices.

The campaign will also be backed by ongoing updates on a number of social media networks so that consumers, especially the young people, can keep abreast of the pace of the campaign and make their own contributions.

Collaboration is a huge part of this Eat Jamaican campaign and stakeholders such as the Jamaica Agricultural Society, RADA and the tourism industry have endorsed the programme which will ultimately bring local foods from the fields to the table.

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