Clarendon farmers call for full-time agri ministerWednesday, September 22, 2021
MAY PEN, Clarendon — Farmers in Northern Clarendon are united in their call for a dedicated minister of agriculture following last week's resignation of the former minister Floyd Green. The farmers say the ministry, which is being touted as one of the industries to pull Jamaica out of its economic crunch, needs a strong leader who will not just be an overseer but will advocate on their behalf.
“I think Floyd Green was the man for the job because he looking out for us as small farmers,” said long-time farmer Clive Riley. “I believe the ministry must have its own personal minister because it's a lot of things going on in that portfolio that needs direct attention. I may not benefit personally but I see [Green's] interest in the job, and the work that he was doing shows that him looking out for all farmers, not just the big man who have dem money can pump into the system.”
Riley is opposed to Audley Shaw being given the ministry as he already has his own portfolio to manage. He is also concerned that he may upend “plans and policies” put in place by Green.
Noel Nembhard who suffered millions in damage following heavy rains from Tropical Storms Grace and Ida recently, said he had been impressed by how Green handled the natural disasters. “In my opinion, I think he could have just apologised and then be allowed to continue do him thing. He had a lot of projects and plans so I don't think the ministry needs a new minister, it need back the same minister. I could understand if he did something way out of the ordinary — now I'm not saying what he did was right but I think the public apology would suffice,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Nembhard suggested that Prime Minister Andrew Holness could have commissioned a poll to gauge public opinion and then make a decision. “I know the prime minister under pressure but with all the big plans he had with the crop insurance and so on, we don't know if Audley Shaw won't change up these plans,” he said. “Green is a young man and he has been encouraging young persons to get into agriculture, which will be very good for us in the long run. I don't think at this time Audley Shaw ready for the ministry of agriculture. As brilliant as he is, he will not manage the portfolio at this time.”
Meanwhile, for Deandra Rose the choice was clear: Agriculture covers several areas including livestock and fisheries as well as financing of the sector so it really needs its own minister for effective management of the broad portfolio.
Jonathan Keane agreed with his colleague. It is an important ministry, he argued. “Whether we like it or not, agriculture impacts all of us in one way or another, from buying goods at the market and supermarkets, to the processing of these products for use locally and for exporting,” he said. He would like to see Green back on the job.
Jermaine Vaughn echoed the sentiments of his colleagues, admitting that he is not au fait with the current crop of ministers available for the prime minister to choose a replacement. “The best man had it but had to give it up; so outside of Floyd Green, I don't know who else would be the best person to take over,” Vaughn said.
Green resigned after a video emerged of him among a group of people toasting the no-movement day during a gathering at a public venue. A petition has been launched to call for his reinstatement.