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Text Box: Editor’s Note: 
In “JAMAICA: Time for Change” Valerie Dixon painted with a wide brush. Her thrust that it is within the interest of all residents – the ‘good, the bad and the ugly,’ as it were, to work together, particularly now that global warming,   food shortages, bank and currency collapsing’ are  upon us. 
This  call is wide,  contemporary  and practical, in light of governments worldwide are now calling on their peoples to produce and consume more of their own produce, and not to depend entirely on imports. Valerie calls on Jamaicans to pull together for survival. 
This call for ‘self-help’, as focused, should  be widely understood across the world by all those who are in similar and potential  predicaments.
Editorial Collective
Self-Help News—’Giving Voice to the Voiceless’
24 April 2008

To take people from their homeland, regardless of the circumstances, and pack them like sardines in a tin on board ships, and then sail them across the Atlantic Ocean   is ‘criminal’.  To psychologically strip people of their religion, culture and way of life, so that they can be forced into slavery is ‘criminal’.  That had been the experiences of the majority of our African-Jamaican ancestors.

We have been battling with topics such as rape, abortion and paternity issues for as long as we have been on the plantation.  The “jacket man” has been in the slave hut long before there was an ‘uptown’ or a ‘downtown’.  Today, thanks to “O. J. Simpson”, we are now able to identify the “jacket man” (through DNA testing) as the true father. Back on the plantation the ‘slave lady’ would tell her Black man that she ‘mark’ the baby ‘pon milk or brown sugar’. 

And so, many of our often-called ‘brown elite class’ are here today because of crime, violence and corruption perpetrated against our African Ancestors during the past 500 years.  There is no point being in denial – ours is a History of crime, violence and corruption.

However, history is history. Today we need to ask questions like - “Can we at least try to get beyond our challenges and difficulties?” 

The Manchester Chamber of Commerce  in Jamaica will be seeking to explore a concept that has been tried and proven to be successful (after many trials and errors along the way) in Japan, the country where it originated.  The concept is called One Village One Product and was originated by a former governor of the Oita Prefecture, Mr. Hiramatsu, now retired.

In 2002, a Japanese delegation, led by the then Ambassador, Mr. Sakurai, brought the concept to Jamaica.  I was invited to the seminar and cultural events by the Manchester Parish Development Committee; featuring members of the delegation.  I was amazed and intrigued by the concept and was very disappointed when the concept was not able to be fully explored and implemented. 

In light of rising food and fuel prices on the international scene, I believe the Chamber could be right in revisiting this concept.  It means that the proper protocol and procedures will have to be observed in order to seek the intervention and technical assistance from the Japanese Embassy and the Chamber is now heading in that direction.

Simply stated, the One Village One Product (OVOP) concept encourages local communities/villages to develop at least one specialty product and make it a ‘hit’ in national and even global markets in the spirit of “acting locally but thinking globally.”  OVOP includes both tangible products such as local specialty foods such as in Jamaica’s case – jerk pork, cassava, yam, cashews and ortaniques etc. that local and international niche markets can be developed around.  Intangible products would include tourists’ attractions, historic and heritage sites, festivals, fairs and football paraphernalia and even the matches themselves.

A lot of hard work and research have already been put in by Dr. Sultana Afroz of the History Department-UWI and myself as we search for our ‘unwritten history’ in districts with exotic names such as Maidstone, Medina and Timbuktu among others.  I have unearthed the history of Marcus Garvey in Resource, Manchester. 

These and other communities must now endeavour to protect themselves from ‘predators’ who are ready to steal their cultural, historic, heritage and intellectual property rights in order to profit from other people’s work and research.

At the Doha World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference held in Qatar, November 2001, the Japanese government launched a “buy Asian and African/developing countries products” campaign as part of the country’s broader diplomatic efforts to help alleviate poverty in many of these countries. 

 Attractive products such as craftwork, textiles, processed foods and cosmetics are to be introduced and sold at various places across Japan.  Jamaica should certainly make an effort to tap into this opportunity as JAMAICA is already a brand name globally for both good and bad reasons.  Boston with its jerk pork; Walker’s Wood and its one product –scotch bonnet pepper and Trench Town with Bob Marley are well on their way.

The Manchester Chamber of Commerce has recognized that training is of utmost importance and has already spear-headed the training of entrepreneurs, who (it is hoped) will help to reduce unemployment and in so doing also reduce crime and violence.  This OVOP concept is therefore a fitting addition to its entrepreneurial initiative, because training plus products is equal to improvement of trainers and citizens.

One of the advantages of the OVOP concept is that people who cannot read and write can still be trained to learn a craft-skill and be able to develop and release a latent entrepreneurial spirit that may spur them on to becoming literate and numerate. 

Training can also foster self-reliance and so eradicate heavy dependency on government.  Training can also force scientific research to be done in order to nurture products and industries that could benefit communities that can produce raw materials and so move into value-added production.

We should never loose sight of the fact that we are an island and the geo-political scene has changed tremendously since 9/11.  What if we can’t afford to import food or worst if the ships bringing the food can’t come? 

 It also means we have to enforce laws now that will stop foreign investors from further poisoning the land, because when they go home to their green pastures what are we going to do with our polluted waters and despoiled and desecrated land?

So in between the murders and all the other dastardly things that some of us choose to do, we, the majority, could also choose to support this OVOP concept and others, in an effort to try and get us to go beyond our challenges and difficulties.



JAMAICA: Leadership & Betrayal

Valerie Dixon is an educator and may be contacted at: valeriecdixon@ubol.com

Your comments may be posted to: feedback@ubol.com

Text Box: JAMAICA: Time for Change
Text Box: Other articles by Valerie Dixon can be read here

Caribbean Correspondent

By Valerie Dixon,

Caribbean Correspondent

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