People’s National Party (PNP) candidate for East Portland Damion Crawford has proposed agriculture, eco- and entertainment tourism as the way forward to rescue the constituency from the continued underdevelopment it has faced.
Crawford, who gave his grand vision for the East Portland seat at a party rally in Port Antonio on Sunday, March 3, said that the parish can tap into its unharnessed potential with agriculture.
“We also want to improve upon farming, but when I look, there’s so much potential – that East Portland nuh need me but I need East Portland,” he said.
“Jamaica is importing US$27 million in tilapia fish and tilapia grow[s] well anyweh riva deh. Therefore, when we look pon up a Burlington, tilapia fish can grow and used to grow up there. When we look up a Windsor, tilapia fish can grow up there,” Crawford added.
His presentation, largely overshadowed by what has been perceived as disparaging remarks against his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) counterpart Ann Marie Vaz, further noted Crawford’s intent to set up an East Portland Development Company to centralise tilapia buying, in efforts to promote local farmers and stimulate the constituency’s economy.
“You (farmers) just [have] to go out there and put in your fish ponds, and start grow your tilapia fish because we are going to eat what we grow and supply hotels with tilapia,” Crawford added.
Crawford asserted that East Portland is the ideal location to tap into the global ornamental fish market – worth an estimated US$500 million.
“Jamaica is exporting US$15,000; they said we can export US$10 million. Well we [in East Portland] want US$5 million out of it down here. We ago set up the development company, you grow your ornamental fish, we buy it from you and then we export it to the world,” Crawford noted, adding that 7th graders across the constituency would not be left out as they would receive ewes instead of a $2,000 book voucher.
Crawford also used his platform to hit back at critics, who claimed he is out of his depth in East Portland.
“So when them seh I don’t know ’bout Portland, I say they don’t know ’bout nothing,” he said.
Spurred into action after the death of incumbent PNP MP Dr. Lynvale Bloomfield, Crawford’s bid come the April 4 by-elections has been touted as a ‘make or break’ event for the party.
The PNP has not lost East Portland in over 30 years, with back-to-back-to-back representation from the late Dr. Bloomfield, Donald Rhodd and Headley Lawrence since 1989.