'Green shoots' for agriculture

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green is obviously smiling behind his mask as he accepts his Instrument of Appointment from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at Kings House yesterday. (Photo: Norman Thomas)

New Minister of Agriculture Floyd Green says he will be driving policy to address some of the long-standing issues facing the sector while pushing to maximise other areas which have not had enough attention over the years.

“There will be a lot of focus on engaging our young persons in agriculture and fisheries,” Green told the Jamaica Observer, as he prepared to be sworn in as Cabinet member for the first time.

“One of the things we have to do is incorporate more of our youth who are interested and give them a clear pathway to which they can participate, [while] providing them with the information that they need so that they can make the right decisions about agriculture and fisheries and that they can bring their own innovations and new way of thinking,” said the second-term Member of Parliament (MP)-elect who was sworn in with 13 other ministers at Kings House yesterday evening.

According to Green, he and his team will also try to address some of the age-old problems which have faced agriculture in relation to storage, distribution, and praedial larceny.

“I think those should get priority focus over the life of this Administration,” said Green who is the MP-elect for St Elizabeth South Western which has a large agricultural and fishing community.

Green said he will also be driving policy to help fisherfolk. “We have to help small fishers retoo,l and find a way to facilitate those who are interested in deep-sea fishing.”

The former state minister in the previous Administration said he also plans to shake up the aquaculture subsector.

“We have to really explore aquaculture in a real way. There are a lot of other areas of the fishing sector that we have not capitalised on, so there is going to be significant focus on aquaculture and ensuring that we maximise the new economy,” said Green, who is one of the youngest members of the Andrew Holness Cabinet.

He had served as state minister in the ministries of education youth and information, and most recently the ministry of agriculture.

In 2019 the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reported that the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry improved by 0.5 per cent.

According to the PIOJ, growth was stymied by drought conditions, particularly in the third quarter when most parishes received below-normal rainfall levels.

The PIOJ said growth was led by the increase in gross output for “other agricultural crops”, which comprise mainly domestic crops, while gross output for “traditional export crops” declined by 6.7 per cent.

— Alphea Saunders