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News Feature- John Gayle tells the Pimento Story in new book
December 18, 2013

Mr John R. Gayle. O.D. (centre) presents a copy of his book Pimento - The Jamaican Allspice Story to Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Roger Clarke at the Minister's Hope Gardens offices on Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Sharing the moment is Ignatius Jean, Representative in Jamaica for the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) who sponsored the publication and printing of the book.

KINGSTON:If you stop, take a deep breath or savour the many culinary delights of the Yuletide Season, you will probably recognise the aromatic flavour and scent of Jamaican All Spice. Said to be the best in the world, it is this famous Jamaican berry that is used to add that extra spice to our sorrel drinks, our ham, and our jerk seasoning and in the cooking of many Jamaican dishes.

Both the name and the diverse uses of the Pimento are clear indicators that the berry contains the flavour and aroma of four other well-known spices, namely cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. It is also related to the spice used to make bay rum and is itself used in the making of liqueurs, teas and in the production of oils for pharmaceutical and therapeutic uses. Indeed Pimento is an ingredient found in several painkillers and insecticides sold locally and modern medicine is showing that constituents of pimento can contribute to the cure of such serious conditions as cancer.

It is little wonder then that, against that background, long-time Pimento expert and enthusiast John R. Gayle has found it necessary and important to record the history, agronomy, characteristics and uses of the Pimento spice.

Gayle, a 90-year-old veteran agriculturalist who spent the major part of his working life at the Ministry of Agriculture and served as Executive Director of the Pimento Association has published a new 78-page booklet on the Pimento.

Entitled Pimento – The Jamaican All Spice Story, the recently-launched booklet has been printed, courtesy of The Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA). The publication will also be made available on –line and is a comprehensive source of information for Pimento growers, agronomists, researchers and marketers.

In his introduction to the book, John Gayle notes that he wrote it in response to the encouragement of acquaintances that are aware of his “long and one-time exclusive acquaintance with pimento”. The book provides him with the opportunity to share with the present generation and for posterity, the knowledge and experience he acquired over the years.

“It is therefore,“ he writes, “with pleasure that I undertake this task in conveying this knowledge and in relating my experiences through this medium, with the anticipation that the book will serve as an educational source of information and play a significant role in the further development of an industry which is listed among Jamaica’s oldest and which provides economic benefit to thousands of growers, employees and the country. Often referred to as the “Cinderella of Jamaica’s agricultural industries, pimento is frequently regarded as a “Manna” crop.”

Welcoming the publication and congratulating the author on his work, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon. Roger Clarke says “John Gayle is to be congratulated for his achievement and given recognition for the unstinting way in which he has made his expertise available to any who asked. His contribution to the management of this crop cannot be overemphasised. I recommend this book to policy makers, pimento farmers, as well as to those interested in agriculture in general, as a model for the development of any crop”.

Pimento-The Jamaican Allspice Story is available at the IICA office at Hope Gardens.    

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