Gov’t crafts move to improve and promote Things Jamaica
Junior Industry Minister Floyd Green said that last Thursday's launch of the National Craft Policy is timely, considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 8,000 persons are being directly or indirectly involved in the industry, and Green said that there is an urgent need to implement measures to ensure its sustainability and growth.
"This is the bread and butter and livelihood of many families," Green said. "We recognised that we have to get nimble. We have to strengthen the Things Jamaican brand, a major outlet for our craft producers for years ... . The other thing we have to ensure is that we have to get back our Things Jamaican shop in the Sangster International Airport, and that has to be non-negotiable."
The National Craft Policy aims to streamline the Jamaican craft industry by facilitating improvements in quality, variety, value, sales, customer satisfaction and profits. It is intended to promote greater local identity of finished craft and souvenirs; innovation; better supply capability; packaging; regulation; and production and distribution facilities.
Janine Fletcher-Taylor, marketing services manager at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation, said there have been too many instances of people questioning the authenticity of craft items on sale in Jamaica. She said that needs to change.
"It is disheartening sometimes to see as Things Jamaican, what we compete with when we say 'craft', and the disappointment we see on our visitors' faces when they come into the shop with an item that they purchased, questioning, 'Is this really made here?'" simply because there are so many persons who are exploiting the brand," Fletcher-Taylor said.
"A lot of times when we do show a product that is of extreme quality, we have to explain, especially to our locals. It is harder to convince locals that products are made here, by an artisan here, usually with materials from here. We have to change that and ensure that we put our marks on these products and capitalise on the value of the brand," she added.
The Green Paper for the policy, done in 2007, stated that the development of quality craftsmanship skills has the potential to create additional opportunities in other economic areas such as construction and product design.