Fitting global attention to fruits and vegetables

Letters to the Editor

Fitting global attention to fruits and vegetables

Monday, December 21, 2020

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Dear Editor,

On Wednesday, December 16 I was happy to see a letter to the editor published in the Jamaica Observer, written by António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, announcing next year as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.

I am delighted. Jamaica usually has good weather for much of the year, and there is so much more that we could do. For instance, why are there not more fruit orchards? We have a variety of fruit — oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, ortaniques, sweet sop, sour sop, custard apples, otaheite apples, pineapples, June plums and other plums, naseberries, cherries, avocados, watermelon, cantaloupe, guava, papaya, and a variety of mangoes. Much goes to waste.

One of the objectives of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 is to reduce losses and waste in fruit and vegetable consumption. We don't eat enough fruit and vegetables and the two other objectives of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 are to raise awareness of and direct policy attention to the nutrition and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption and promote diversified, balanced, and healthy diets and lifestyles through fruit and vegetable consumption.

And, while I am at it, let me say that I would like to see us experiment with other fruit which we do not grow at present. One such is the kiwi, which is far too expensive when available. It bears well and could be a less expensive alternative to citrus.

The price of vegetables has simply been ridiculous this Christmas. Plummy tomatoes sell at $700 per pound and sweet peppers $900. These are just two examples in the breadbasket parish. A few weeks ago, lettuce was also near $1,000 per pound. This must never be allowed to happen again. A careful study of what caused this must be done and a repeat avoided. All parishes did not experience the same degree of bad weather.

Because of our salubrious climate, we can grow a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, sweet peppers, hot peppers, carrots, lettuce, pumpkin, celery, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli, radish, egg plant, etc. I could add yams, potatoes, green bananas, and plantains.

Even before Christmas, prices were high. Yellow yam was near $300 per pound at one stage, and sweet yam is still at $200. Onions rose to $300 and Irish potatoes went over $200. Carrots are still at that price. I thought we would have been self-sufficient in onions and Irish potatoes by this.

The year 2016 was the International Year of Pulses. So successful was this that we now have a World Pulses Day (February 10) — something we hardly hear about in Jamaica. I trust that the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 will be more successful in Jamaica than that 2016 celebration.

Norman W M Thompson

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