‘We do not have much as a first-world country, but we do have the Net, which lets us live like a first-world country’, says Abijah, an upcoming artist in a recording studio.
In the flourishing Jamaican music industry, ICT is part of life. Lloyd Stanbury, who represents Abijah: ‘We have always kept abreast of the developments in technology’. Abijah: ‘You don’t have to carry 10,000 records on a plane to go to Europe or America anymore. Now you simply advertise on the Net’.
In contrast to the music sector, farmers have just discovered the computer. ‘We are coming into the computer age, so everybody needs to be computerised. Is that the right word?’, says Burnett Graham on his small farm overlooking the sea in rural Jamaica. Burnett’s main crop is scallion. ‘You want scallion in everything, except coffee, you don’t want scallion in coffee’, he says taking a bite from a raw scallion. The tomatoes he planted lay rotten. ‘No market, couldn’t sell’. Most of the vegetables the farmers plant go to waste.
Not because of lack of quality, but because they do not know where they can sell their produce. Like most farmers in Jamaica, Burnett does not know what is needed and he just plants what he thinks is best. As a result overproduction is common.
Anthony Freckleton tries to help the farmers with the use of the computer. ‘The farmers are under the gun right now, cheap subsidised imports are coming into Jamaica. In 1987 the World Bank gave us a loan of USD 40 million, under the condition that we should open our markets for imports. According to the WTO rules, imports can be stopped when presenting data showing that the locally grown crops are sufficient. These data can also be used to market the vegetables and plan production.’
It remains to be seen if the computer will be of any help to the farming sector. Most farmers don’t see how it can help them. ‘A farmer doesn’t need a computer. We have a computer in our brains’, Burnett says laughing.