Name: Kay Narineingh
Student # 807003376
What is the Status of the Caribbean-American Foods Market Blog
I applaud the National Caribbean-American Foods and Foodways Alliance (NCAFFA) for creating a hub for connecting students, persons, businesses and organizations who share an interest in Caribbean foods. I find their goal of using educational tools and food systems “foodways” to strengthen community very intriguing. However, one might ask which community.
Caribbean export agriculture has the potential to increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), access to foreign exchange, drive competitive productivity and reduce unemployment and poverty according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2008. (Kendall P. et. al.) Small producers/ farmers from the Caribbean are constantly competing with international supplier of the same goods. It is constantly becoming less cost effective to compete on the international market as quantity goods produced may be insufficient and greater land access for farming continues to be a constraint on the islands.
The demand in the Caribbean food market may be expanding but is not readily felt in the Caribbean, especially not by our local farmers. Caribbean export revenues averaged an annual decline of 2.5% between 1994 to 2004.(Kendall P. et. al.) Mention was made of an ever growing recognition of “jerk” which is synonymous with Jamaica, it can also be noted that there has been a decline in exports of goods from Jamaica of US$305m (1996) to US$260m (2000), 35.7% of which is exported to the United States (New Agriculturist 2014).
Also, in light of the “demand for small farm production of Caribbean foods adaptable to short growing periods in northern climates “, this is a direct onslaught on Caribbean farmers. If farming is conducted in the U.S. can we really have any rights to that food at all? Is it still “Caribbean”? It may turn out to be another American franchise with some shadow of the Caribbean in it.
As appreciative of the Caribbean way of life and our cooking the NCAFFA may be, their heart for the Caribbean fades when it comes to ‘Home’. How do all its goals, successes and food fairs translate to the growth of the Caribbean communities? Yes, love the food; establish the cuisine in Washington and all across the U.S., but at the end of the day sustainable avenues should be created to secure revenue to the very Caribbean islands from which these cuisines were developed. Steps should be taken to preserve the Caribbean way of life and its food and all exporting of “Caribbean” should benefit the island/s from which these unpatented food ideas/inventions were extracted, instead of leaving room for monopolizing or selling to the “better “market.
The NCAFFA areas of interest should emphasize positive contributions to Caribbean employment to encourage equitable distribution of income in Caribbean homes. They have great potential in being instrumental in fostering change in the Caribbean on a community level through poverty reduction, increased food security and the encouragement of sustainable farming.
Kendall, P. , Petracco M. The Current State and Future of Caribbean Agriculture http://www.caribank.org/uploads/publications-reports/staff-papers/agripaper8-1.pdf; Accessed 2017.04.10
New Agriculturist. January 2004. Country Profile Jamaica
http://www.new-ag.info/en/country/profile.php?a=856; Accessed 2017.04.11