Guest Post | A Story About Onions

growing onions

Last Friday a friend of mine, Sasha, called me.  She was so excited about a conversation she had with a young man about a farming project in Jamaica. Now this may seem strange to you but Sasha is working toward returning to Jamaica to farm. As simple as that.  She is a woman of the earth for sure.  So below is a story about onions…and a solution to address the 9,000 tons of onions that Jamaica imports annually and a first step to ensuring that Jamaicans are eating good quality food.  Onions.  We import a ridiculous amount of onions.  I know some folks will say, well, Jamaica’s national dish includes an imported expensive fish so why is it surprising that Jamaica imports so many onions?  To that I’d say to your that when you cease to be surprised by something as ludicrous as importing 9,000 tons of a product that we are capable of producing then perhaps you need to reevaluate…things.  The Farm Up Jamaica campaign set a lofty fundraising goal and there are only 6 days left to meet it.  Think about how often you use onions….  Share this blog post (written by Sasha and Farm Up Jamaica Up Jamaica founder, Neil Curt) and the related materials, check out the information on the project and contribute if you can.  Support.

_________________________________________________________________________________A Story About Onions, But More Importantly, We Need Your Help

Farm UpJamaica imported 90 percent of their onions in 2011 according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Ninety percent. In the land of wood and water, a basic food staple in every Jamaican kitchen was grown in a nation other than Jamaica. This speaks volumes about the economic and agricultural state of Jamaica. Imagine a family earning the equivalent of US$50 per week, Jamaica’s current minimum wage, which every family is not entitled to make. Bus fare is an average of US$20 per week, and the family hasn’t paid for lunch or paid the light bill as yet. A pound of onions are US$1.50 and even a soda is the same price as in America. How does the average Jamaican survive? Can you imagine what would happen if Jamaicans in the Diaspora stopped sending remittances home? It is possible that poverty would become so widespread that more everyday people would turn to crime in order to survive.

Let’s face it, the $2 billion in remittances received last year are Jamaica’s crutches or should I say, our wheelchair! A few weeks ago I called my cousin who owns a small grocery stall in Jamaica. As I was speaking to him he dropped his phone as he almost cut his finger multitasking – he was cutting an onion in half to sell to a customer who could not afford to buy a whole one. Please repeat that thought to yourselves:  the agricultural and economic position is so bad that a basic staple that comes from the earth must now be cut in half!

So why the focus on onions?  The demand for onions in the local market is 10,000 tons per year.  Jamaica produces approximately 1,000 tons per year.  This means that 9,000 tons of onions are being imported into Jamaica every year.  The Jamaican population and its economy suffer for two main reasons due to this shortfall: onions are sold locally at higher prices and the quality of the onions is compromised, as genetically modified, non-organic production is the latest trend.

Farm Up Jamaica Ltd., a non-profit operating in Jamaica, needs your help to plant 5 acres of non-GMO organic onion on a 100-acre farm in Mandeville, Jamaica. This land belongs to a distressed farmer that we will be assisting in his farming initiatives. Onions will be used for a test project, but it’s just to show how we can produce ORGANIC FOOD that can help to fill the gaps for even the most common items that Jamaicans buy AND lower the importation rate of produce we can grow ourselves. If we produce these onions we will close the gap on approximately 1 percent of the onions imported to Jamaica, which means the Ministry will reduce the amount of onions it takes from importers by 1 percent. Imagine what can be done if this initiative becomes widespread for other food staples.

 How You Can Help:

  1. Please share this campaign to raise funds for the first pilot project.  Donate anything you can! It will truly make a difference if every person that received this contributed just $5!
  2. Send seeds if you don’t want to contribute money (certified organic please).  Or, send or contribute farming equipment.
  3. Spread the word about this organization. Even sending this email to at least 5 people will help.
  4. Visit the Farm Up Jamaica Facebook page, follow our Twitter account and share information, and like the group:  or drop us an email.

The campaign ends in 6 days!! Please spread the word!

By supplying farmers with everything from seeds to workforce, Farm Up Jamaica will begin to introduce local markets to inexpensive organic foods and decrease the need to import unhealthy, genetically modified crops. If we are to really make a change we have to help ourselves – we’ve seen time and time again that most government policy favors corporations over people. Ultimately, we will create good jobs while closing the gap on importation of foreign foods. And we will have the satisfaction in knowing we have lifted up ourselves in the process.

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