New minister wants more young people in agriculture

New minister wants more young people in agriculture

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

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NEWLY appointed Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green wants to see more young people involved in farming as a viable business, a stronger agricultural research and development framework, and an increase in the island's agricultural export offerings.

Providing much-needed assistance to fisherfolk and equipping them with the necessary tools and skills to improve their livelihood are also on the books for Green.

These objectives form part of the minister's top priorities as he takes over the reins as a full Cabinet minister.

“I definitely want to see more young people incorporated. I want to see a stronger research and development framework. I want to see our educational institutions, especially tertiary, moving from research into putting things into practice, out in the fields, out in the sea. I think that is very important, and I want to see an expansion of our export market…I want to see export growing,” he said.

Speaking to JIS News at the swearing-in ceremony for ministers on Sunday at King's House, Green said he is very excited by the opportunity to serve, and he is honoured and humbled by his appointment.

The minister said he is aware of the numerous challenges facing the sector, given his previous role as a state minister, and also from the difficulties faced by farmers in his parish, St Elizabeth, one of the country's most productive farming parishes.

“We have to find a way to get more youth to come into agriculture and fisheries and we have to make it easier for people who have a genuine interest to get a pathway to come into agriculture or fisheries. So, one of the things I want to do is to ensure that the information is at their fingertips, they know how to, and that they take a business approach when they are going into agriculture or fisheries,” he added.

Noting that research is also going to be critical when it comes to innovation and driving technology both across agriculture and fisheries, Green said strengthening the research and development capabilities is certainly a key priority for the ministry.

Another big priority area for him and the Administration, he said, is the welfare of fisherfolk.

“The reality is a lot of our fishermen are going through difficult times and we have to have a programme to help them retool, help them deal with the impact of climate change, help them to do deep-sea fishing. Those are some of the things we are going to be focusing on, and outside of that, it's just about trying to grow the sector,” the minister said.

Green said that with COVID-19 impacting the lives of Jamaicans, agriculture and fisheries have taken on more importance, as the ability to feed oneself has greater significance now.

“So, we have to continue to work with the farmers, work with the fishermen and ensure that we give them all the support that they need,” he noted.

Pointing to the new Supplementary Estimates, he said that an additional $1 billion has been allocated to agriculture and from that, some funds will be used to assist the fisherfolk with retooling and also to provide farmers with machinery.

Green also said he will paying attention to storage and distribution as well as imports.

“One of the things I want to do early in the day is to look at our regional import of agricultural produce. Most of the agricultural produce are protected, so you have to get a waiver to import, which means that there is not enough supply, so you have to look externally. If we can raise our production level for those specific things across the region, then I think we will be well on our way to ensuring that agriculture gets the sort of resources that it needs,” the minister said.

Green expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Andrew Holness or having confidence in his ability to lead the ministry.

“I am really happy that I get this opportunity to represent the people of Jamaica in this important area and to drive the growth of agriculture and fisheries,” he told JIS News.

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