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(CMC) – Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw says he wants to make it mandatory for all schools to use bananas as part of their nutrition programme as well as to reduce the multi-billion dollar food import bill.
“Right now 80 per cent of what our children eat is imported and a lot of it is basically flour, rice and bag juice – you know what I’m talking about – sugar and water,” Shaw told a ceremony in St. Mary, north-east of here over the weekend.
He said that bananas are much more nutritious than imported flour and that while the market price for banana is J$25 (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) a pound and “we are getting it for our schools for five dollars a pound”.
Shaw said that the country’s high food import bill is a constant headache for the government and is estimated at five billion dollars annually.
The Agriculture Minister said that school administrators should seek to embrace the change to providing bananas at schools.
“This is not optional. They must embrace this opportunity for our children and I am saying it because old habits die hard. And some people feel that it’s easier to deal with the flour and the rice.
“Let us ask our cooks in the schools to get used to banana porridge, get used to banana bread,” Shaw added.