JMA Online News
Buy more Jamaican, concurs Frankson
Written by: Jamaica Observer
DOREEN Frankson has joined alongside Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke in the call for farmers to step up production levels and consumers to buy more local products to cut the country’s huge food import bill.
Clarke said earlier this week that while all food needs cannot be adequately met at current levels of production, studies have shown that there is the capability to substitute up to 30 per cent of food imports, which is running at approximately US$800 million per annum. Frankson, a former Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) president, followed up with a letter to the Jamaica Observer in support of the minister’s position.
“The appeal by the minister extends beyond the farming community to the manufacturing sector as there are numerous investment opportunities for import substitution and locally made quality goods to be consumed, to further reduce our trade imbalance,” Frankson said. “In addition, we must strengthen the linkages between the farmers and agro-processors, ensuring consistency of supply to expand output.”
“I am aware of the fact that as a country, we will not be able to produce everything we consume; however, it is mind boggling that we continue to import products, such as banana chips, that are produced locally,” she added.
Frankson supported her point by highlighting that for the period 2006-2011, items produced in Jamaica were among the top 12 imported products. Among them, she said were wooden furniture, paper-based containers, juices, hygiene products, and clothing for both men and women.
“This cannot continue to be so, as the import of non-fuel products is costing the country US$2.5 billion. As a nation, we need to stop living above our means by importing what we cannot afford,” she said, adding “To transform the Jamaican economic and social landscape, we need to consume products made in Jamaica by Jamaicans, as this stimulates job creation, the saving of foreign exchange and increased revenue to the government coffers.”
Frankson noted that the manufacturing sector has been the third-largest contributor to government revenue over the past five years, accounted for over $120 billion earned by the state. She emphasised that the industry could contribute more with the support of locals compounded with the sector’s own efforts to boost exports.
The former JMA head highlighted that, with the support of Jampro, the association has managed to register 320 local and international buyers for the Expo Jamaica later this month at the National Arena.
“(We) invite all Jamaicans to come out, witness, sample and purchase the over 2000 products made in Jamaica,” she said.
Frankson added: “Jamaican manufacturers continue to respond to the needs of consumers and remain competitive despite the challenges with which we must confront. So my appeal is to read your labels and purchase “PRODUCT OF JAMAICA.”
Clarke said that the Government is putting emphasis on increasing production of a number of crops such as Irish potato, to reduce imports of the produce and value-added items, including French fries.