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Jamaica Needs to Focus on Science and Technology to Grow, Expert Says

Dr. Henry Lowe of Jamaica

Dr. Henry Lowe of Jamaica (Photo via Live Jamaica Updates)

A few months ago, noted scientist Dr. Henry Lowe made another pitch for the use of science and technology to aid sustainable development in Jamaica.

Addressing the 50th anniversary annual general meeting of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association, Lowe pointed out that successful societies, such as Singapore, USA and Germany, have used science and technology, not only for the goods and services they produce, but also to establish quality and standardization for their domestic and export industries.

Quite correctly, Lowe stated that if Jamaica is to overcome its financial problems, partly through exports, it needs to move away from the reliance on export products such as sugar, banana and bauxite to new non-traditional products and services for a sustainable future.

“This new direction must be driven by innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, supported by science and technology,” he emphasized.

Given that he was asked to speak on how the export sector, in particular, and the economy in general, can benefit and grow through the development of two non-traditional industries — nutraceuticals and marijuana — Lowe, who is internationally known for his cancer research using Jamaican plants, as well as his production of a range of nutraceutical products, shared some interesting statistics.

He pointed to National Nanotechnology Initiative data in 2015 showing that the estimated value of nutraceuticals export from Jamaica was US$12,671,942, while imports stood at US$32 million.

“If one examines this data, we have not even started to develop our export potential, as well as our import substitution,” Lowe said, adding that industry analysts have projected that the global market for nutraceuticals is expected to eclipse US$250 billion by 2018.

Lowe also pointed to data released in 2014 showing that this region, including Jamaica, could immediately benefit from a health and wellness industry with the addition of nutraceuticals and marijuana to the tune of US$180 million.

In relation to marijuana, Lowe highlighted an ArcView Group 2014 report pointing to the huge business potential of this plant.

The report stated that medical and recreational marijuana sales jumped 74 percent that year to hit US$2.7 billion, compared with roughly US$1.5 billion in 2013.

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