The triumph of the Jamaica Labour Party has ushered in a new wave of hope amongst Jamaican youth. Gone are the days when we mumble amongst ourselves about poor governance and what should be done to set Jamaica on a truly successful growth path. We want our voices to be heard. We want to hold our leaders accountable. We want to be a part of making Jamaica the place to live, grow, work, do business, and raise families. Therefore, I am making the bold move to express some of my thoughts on what I think the government should do on the road to prosperity.
Invest in Agriculture
Firstly, I think that we have to focus on increasing productivity. Our agriculture sector provides the best means by which to do that. Investments should be made in creating a top-notch agriculture sector that produces goods that give us a competitive advantage on the global marketplace. In a Gleaner article published on May 21, 2015, it was stated that the Ministry of Agriculture projected approximately “one billion dollars in earnings from honey production in 2015”. Can the new government build on what has already been done in this area so that our earnings can increase?
Castor bean oil production is another area that has not been sufficiently tapped into. With its variety of uses, castor beans provide Jamaica with a viable means of earning foreign exchange. The previous government had begun work in supporting people who wanted to embark on castor bean farming and castor bean oil production. However, growth was slow in this area. Can the present government pick up the pace and make this a booming aspect of the agriculture industry?
Although this is an area of great contention, legalizing marijuana can significantly increase our income. I agree that there are several factors to consider as it relates to the misuse of the substance and the negative psychological affects it has. However, there is a wide range of medicinal benefits that marijuana offers that cannot be ignored. California has achieved 1 billion dollars in profit from medical marijuana. Can we regulate its use and production so that we can reap the same benefits?
Investing in the agriculture sector will not only improve our GDP. It will also address issues of unemployment since more support will be available to farmers. The government could also consider providing incentives to those who study agriculture management courses so that we can create a truly top of the line agriculture sector.
Invest in the ICT Sector
Secondly, our country is filled with so many smart, talented and creative ICT professionals. We have excellent programmers and ICT experts. In the global marketplace, expertise in ICT is highly valued. Our ICT experts want greater freedom to create and innovate. However, they cannot do this with the hefty price tags that are placed on computer and technology imports. Can the government address these tax issues?
Additionally, our Jamaican online businesses need greater freedom to conduct online transactions. The main online financial marketplace is PayPal. However, great financial restrictions in our country prevent PayPal from opening its services to Jamaicans. How can the government address this?
Invest in Literacy
An educated society has greater chance for success. However, education in a broad sense is inaccessible to most Jamaicans. I believe that our focus should be on ensuring that at least 90% of adults and all of our children are literate. Being able to read and write makes a great difference in opening up opportunities. This, I believe, should be done on a constituency level through collaboration with Members of Parliament and local parish councils. How can we utilize our unemployed English teachers in literacy programs across the country?
These are just a few ideas and concerns. I am sure that many other young people have more that they wish to say. Hopefully, this will be read by the right people who can implement great change.