Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green is anticipating an excellent year for farming as he spearheads a number of initiatives aimed at insulating the sector against external shocks and extreme weather conditions, having learnt lessons from the pandemic and devastating year-end floods.
Green described 2020 as a year of mixed results for agriculture, given the seven per cent growth the sector saw in the first quarter before COVID-19 triggered disruptions in markets, especially in the tourism sector, which was virtually in hibernation for months and has still not recovered.
Based on his plans and projections, the minister believes he is on track to right-size agriculture this year.
“I am very optimistic about 2021 for agriculture. I have tasked AIC (Agro-Invest Corporation) and SCJ (Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings) to accelerate the pace at which land is put into production and to get more creative and innovative in attracting investment [and] also in providing technical support for the farmers who work in the agro parks ,” he told The Gleaner. “Again, what we are trying to do is to develop a market-driven agricultural sector that is research-based and is sustainable. So we are going to be doing the work in terms of connecting the markets to our farmers and ensuring that our farmers are always quite aware of the market that they are planting to, even before they plant.”
However, Jamaica Agricultural Society First Vice-President Denton Alvaranga and Trade Winds Managing Director Peter McConnell believe that some major policy adjustments are needed if agriculture is to see sustainable growth this year.