Letters to the Editor

Let's advance medicine and grow earnings from local plants

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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Dear Editor,

One of the reasons preventing progress in Jamaica is the lack of creativity in utilising the natural resources that the island is blessed with in order to reap economic benefits. This could be partly because the ingenuity is not there, or there is an absence of proactive thinking to explore the unknown. Whatever the case may be, we are missing out.

In this particular instance I am speaking from the standpoint of medicine. I am a big fan of plants and their medicinal uses. Unfortunately, I was not gifted with genius-level intellect to be able to use knowledge of plants to produce medicine. Neither am I a botanist nor a herbal medical practitioner. However, there is most likely someone or a group of individuals amongst the population who would be fit to take on the role.

We see that other countries are becoming serious about the medicinal uses of marijuana, for example. In my estimation, if we solely invest in medicinal marijuana, doing so will probably not yield much benefit to Jamaica, because the marijuana plant is grown in numerous countries and there is no way that a small island like Jamaica can supply more marijuana to the world than the US, for example.

Nonetheless, I am making an appeal to the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science Energy & Technology, the Scientific Research Council, and the universities to strongly consider researching the medicinal properties of plants that are indigenous to Jamaica. In other words, compile a list of all the plants that are native to Jamaica and determine what illnesses or diseases they can be used to combat or cure. Emphasis is on “indigenous”, because that will ensure that Jamaica will be at a competitive advantage in supplying medicine produced locally. Additionally, focusing on plants originating in Jamaica should invite foreign demand if marketed properly — JAMPRO's involvement may come into play here.

As a response to the increase in demand, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries should dedicate more farmlands for growing the plants in question. The results should be a rise in farming and research jobs, expansion of the Jamaican scientific community, improvement in the health sector, and also the attraction of much-needed earnings (via investments) for the country.

The Writer

blackpencilpoint@gmail.com

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