Newly reinstated Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Mining Floyd Green says he is humbled and honoured to return to the portfolio, and is moving full force ahead with plans to tackle praedial, the mining of rare earth elements, and the issue of drought affecting farmers high on his priority list.
Green took up office last week Thursday (May 25), leaving behind his role as Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister.
During his transition period, Green told Our Today that he met with the previous agriculture minister, Pearnel Charles Jr., to get up to date on programmes and plans for the sector, and he is eager to get the ball rolling on issues he is passionate about.
“I am humbled and honoured. The Prime Minister has given me another opportunity to continue some of the work that we started in 2020. It’s an area that I have significant passion and love for and clearly would have already started some work in relation to focusing on things such as food security and exports. I am truly happy that I get the ability to have some of those plans come to fruition,” said Green.
Green resigned his post as agriculture minister in 2021 after a social-media storm swirled over a video of him, Mona division Councillor Andrew Bellamy, and others partying maskless at the R Hotel in New Kingston and toasting to no-movement day in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His resignation was not accepted by some who, at the time, applauded him for the work he was doing in the sector and was said to see him go. Upon his return to the sector, the Minister received a warm welcome from stakeholders who missed his presence.
“Oftentimes in public service, you put in the work, but you are not sure about the level of impact it is having, and whether the work is being appreciated. I am always focused on just trying to get the work done, regardless of what I’m tasked to do, and working with the various teams. As public servants at my level in the political directorate, you have to depend on your technical teams, you have to depend on so many people to bring forward your policy direction. It is never just the policy maker, it is the team that you work with.
“So being out of the sector, I guess it [allowed me] to reflect on some of the work that has been done and to see what went well, what didn’t go well,” he told Our Today.
Green to tackle limestone industry
Along with agriculture and fisheries, the reappointed Minister will also be responsible for the mining sector.
With the formalities now out of the way, Green said that over the next two weeks, there will be meetings with the different stakeholders in the mining sector to discuss some of the issues affecting mining and ways to address them.
“Mining has been a significant foreign exchange earner for Jamaica over our history. But clearly, it is a sector in transition with [some] different issues and challenges. So I look forward to the opportunity to work with the various stakeholders to see how we can ensure that we address some of the fundamental challenges, while still trying to have a strong sector,” he told Our Today.
The Minister said through these discussions, he is hoping to uncover new opportunities for the sector, with particular emphasis placed on developing the limestone industry and the mining of rare earth elements.
Under the agriculture sector, Green said that his immediate priorities include the Farm Road programme, Praedial Larceny, and the issue of drought affecting farmers.
Jamaica is experiencing a meteorological drought. Some areas in the East also have signs of hydrological drought, meaning rivers and streams are drying up. Green said he is well aware of the issue and will discuss measures to implement.
“There are still significant challenges, especially in rural Jamaica, with getting farms to produce, which diminishes productivity level, because when people have poor connectivity, then they only do what they think is manageable, and it reduces the sort of return on investment that the farmers can get,” said the Minister.
Additionally, he plans to speak with members of the fishing industry to follow through on work done in conservation areas and the sanctuary programme.
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