Former prime Minister Michael Manley had constantly urged Jamaicans to eat what we grow and grow what we eat and stop relying too much on imported food products. The COVID-19 pandemic is bound to bring about global food insecurity.
Successive administrations have focused more on tourism while the agricultural sector dwindled. If we cannot produce enough, we have no choice but to import. Our arable lands are now becoming housing complexes.
Farming should be given the necessary thrust by the Government to be sustainable; a reduction in importation of agriculture produce could be a first step which would definitely force us to farm more and support local farmers.
Engage the citizens and sensitise them about the benefits of agriculture, promote agriculture as a vocation, provide low-interest loans to the sector. We as a country should be producing a lot more to feed ourselves. Why should we be importing onions, carrots and Irish potatoes when we they can be locally grown? Rural secondary schools usually own or have access to land, but these are not put to agriculture or aquaculture.
More farming solutions will move Jamaica to self reliance in food and can jump-start a lucrative agro-processing industry. We need to adjust our focus and think long term for agriculture. A post-COVID-19 Jamaica will need to import less and produce more; the excess can be exported, thereby earning foreign exchange. Growing our own food is very important for food security.