Coconut oil is God’s gift to the peasant class and marginalized.
For decades health media in the United States has portrayed coconut oil as the devil of edible oil.
That perhaps was a way to destroy the growing copra and coconut oil industry of the day. Fast track to the 2000’s coconut oil began being propelled as one rich in saturated fats but healthy saturated fats.
Coconut oil production was a common and critical cottage industry while growing up in St. Ann. Although, the terra cotta bauxite enriched soil was not ideal for coconut trees to grow, the industrious character of the women of the Dry Harbour Mountains meant they would source coconuts from St. Mary and produce the ubiquitous annotto colored oil or plain coagulated snow coloured oil in their kitchen and backyards.
Coconut production was a mainstay of several entrepreneurial rural working class and the peasantry up to the early 1980’s.
Hard working higglers would take the oil to markets in Christiana and Mandeville as they sought to earn a decent bread for themselves and families. What is interesting is that the income earned was able to school their children especially the early recipients of the then Common Entrance Examination ( precursor to the GSAT Examination).
It financed poor people’s children education at schools like Holmwood Technical High, Knox College, St. Hilda’s High and York Castle High.
Finding themselves as non beneficiaries of a colonial system which did nothing for ex slaves, folks of the Dry Harbour Mountain replete with free villages such as Clarksonville, Wilberforce and Buxton must have been very innovative in their pursuit of economic reliance and independence.
Their passion and survival instinct also led to them empowering the next generation by educating their young ones. Today many young women cry that the government is not providing jobs consciously forgetting that others before them “turned their hands and made fashion.”
Their engagement in edible oil production provided an important and necessary consumer item for those who had no know how and for those whose participation in Indirect Production was in other specialist areas far from oil production. It was therefore nothing extraordinary to see in these rural towns the teachers, business class, pharmacists and ordinary consumers purchasing the output of the women from St. Ann.
I am appalled that women are also part of the lottery scam and are part of the anti-social elements destroying the fabric of the Jamaican society. The women of the sixties and seventies had exploited the local resources to their economic advantage such as coconut oil production.
There is no reason why our people cannot be industrious today instead of waiting on their politicians to provide jobs.
Coconut oil production provided an economic base years ago and it can be exploited at the cottage industry level again especially now that the health industry has confirmed it is a wonder oil.
By Winston Donald
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