For a country that is so blessed with its own natural resources to be self-efficient, why have we been ranked as the second poorest country in the Caribbean? Having been born in this Island; a citizen for twenty-four years and nine months, I believe I am qualified to share my observations of the realities.
Without a doubt, Slavery is greatly responsible for the mind-set that many of my fellow Jamaicans have towards Agriculture. Farming is still considered primitive and reminds many of peers of slavery and as result our people have not made adequate use of the fertile lands nor the revolutionary technology to our advantage. We are so bombarded with the North American Culture showcased on our television screens. If we should consider the things that we spend the most money, food for example; How much of it is locally manufactured? Consider the hair industry also, ladies spend a fortune on their hair through online shopping, wigs, hair piece etc. not made in Jamaica! As consumers, we should make an effort to be aware of the products we purchase and if any at all we are patriotic we would start supporting our local market. We must reduce our import bill and/or balance exports as a nation if any at all we seek to improve the status quo.
Our heads of state and advisory bodies today, despite the vast advancement in technology, their poor choices of investment have caused us to remain primitive as a nation in our approach to many aspects of governance; many of our resources we take for granted could really help us to hit the Jackpot if we had a proactive approach. As a small nation, we have one of the highest murder rates per capita yet our government has no crime plan in place. Do they really care about the people? We would observe that repatriation has been a frequent cry in recent times as it is a fact that the free and inhumane labor provided by our ancestors through slavery is responsible for the powerful economies of Britain etc. today. But if Jamaica receives this repatriation in cash or kind, how would the wealth be shared? Probably only the families of the government members and the opposition would benefit.
Our local Farmers and Factories need help! Help with Innovation, Technology, training staff, using the right farming techniques that will not exhaust the land, feeding livestock with locally manufactured feeds, networking, business supporting business. They need to think long-term! What we have in abundance can be described as corner shop industries in Jamaica, where people have the mentality to ‘eat a food.’ No Adequate research, nor preparation, nor the actual application of self is done. We just do something, any old thing trying to ‘make ends meet’. If we consider the emigrants that came pre and post-emancipation, they have established many businesses for themselves and their families: Restaurants, Wholesale, Resorts etc.
What exists in Jamaica is that most of our wealth are in the hands of these emigrants who had made right decisions, seized an opportunity and are today reaping the benefits of their successes. We refuse to be innovative as a people and continue to travel the route our ancestors took, hard labor for meager wages. Many brilliant young people are leaving colleges to work as Customer Service Representatives in the booming Business Process Outsourcing Sector. Are any of these ‘call centers’ as we know them owned by a Jamaican, do they serve Jamaican Clients? I think not. Jamaicans are simply the hard-working employees everywhere building up foreign empires. How could I forget, Auntie Sue is filing papers for little Johnny to go to Canada. There he will continue his employee duties probably working for better wages but with higher bills to pay. What we are seeing here is history repeating itself, we own practically nothing in our own country!
We need to take a monitoring and evaluations approach to assessing our industries and the various ministries of government that oversee the policies and programs to determine if we are adequately preparing our citizens for independence. The Education Ministry for example needs to ensure that the subjects being taught at various levels- from the Basic to the Tertiary level are preparing students to thrive in a global market while maintaining patriotism.
In conclusion I still believe our systems continue to train our people to be slaves, just for a new master: The Government of Jamaica