Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, believes that with more investments in both sectors, Jamaica can recover earnings being lost in tourism as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Addressing the Kiwanis Club of Eastern St. Andrew Zoom meeting on Tuesday (November 10), Mr. Green said the tourism sector is experiencing a shortfall in earnings, which agriculture can assist to replace.
“We have seen what has happened to our tourism industry, and with that fallout… a lot of people are saying ‘Where will recovery come from?’. I think COVID-19 has pointed us in a direction that we should have seen for a long time, and a number of us already knew – the real pillar of the economy, the real pillar of any country, is its agricultural and fisheries sector,” the Minister said.
“No matter what is happening, in the good times and the bad times, people are always in need of food, so having a robust, well-structured agricultural sector is critical to ensuring that Jamaica will move forward, and it is critical to ensuring that Jamaica will grow,” Mr. Green added.
He called on Jamaicans, especially members of the private sector, to partner with the Government to re-strategise and ensure that agriculture grows the country and gets the sort of focus it deserves.
Mr. Green said the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is seeking more public-private partnerships, especially in setting up more storage facilities to store produce.
“What we are going to look to do, again through public-private partnerships… [is] to set up a network of storage facilities, some cold, some may not be, but at the end of the day, facilities in which we can put our produce when there are times of great supply and then redistribute [them],” the Minister noted.
“We had a tremendous melon crop that came in right before COVID-19 and a number of our farmers were looking at tremendous losses. The Ministry had to intervene, find storage, put in a distribution network through our mobile markets/farmers markets, and through that process, we were able to move most of the produce,” he added.