Institute for Sustainability

Resource Efficiency in Jamaican Maroon Communities

Resource Efficiency in Jamaican Maroon Communities: A Historical and Scientific Inquiry

Principal Investigator: Dr. Diana Paton, School of History,Classics and Archaeology
Presenter at Institute for Sustainability Conference: Dr. Stuart Crichton, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Summary

Jamaican Maroon communities occupy a precarious position due to their geographic and political location. Their food security is under threat due to high post-harvest losses of their crops and the potential safety of their preserved food stuffs. Utilising historical inquiry, agricultural engineering and microbiology, this pilot project analysed the Jamaican Maroon agricultural sector’s resource efficiency.

This research found huge potentials for aiding Maroon food security. Firstly, efficient preservation methods are practically non-existent in Maroon communities and only a few farmers still utilise traditional methods of food preservation. Secondly, the once popular cooperative system of farming is increasingly rare. Maroons rely on the intermediary 'higglers' to collect their produce and take it to market, primarily because few farmers have access to transportation, which has prohibitive  costs. The use of higglers makes Maroon farmers vulnerable to changes in climate, market fluctuations, and to the reliability of the higglers themselves. Increasingly, non-Maroon farmers are facing this issues as well.

Food preservation methods such as solar drying will contribute to the reduction of these vulnerabilities. A more cooperative system of farming would help to secure the communities'food security. Currently, many Maroon farmers grow the same crops and harvest them at the same time, reducing prices due to market saturation. Maroon farmers are keen to incorporate new preservation methods with the traditional ones which are facing extinction. A future project will seea more sustained field trip to learn these traditional methods and suitable scientific methods to help preserve Maroon heritage and food security.