Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Green pushes for cutting-edge technology in agriculture

Published:Saturday | October 17, 2020 | 12:14 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green says his ministry is moving quickly to strengthen the sector with plans to pull farmers fully into the technological age.

Green delivered the main address during yesterday’s virtual conference in acknowledgement of World Food Day under the theme: “Grow, Nourish, Sustain Together”.

According to Green, many rural farmers do not have access to “cutting-edge technology, including the Internet”.

“This is something we must address. In order for agriculture to do well, in order for us to survive and for us to have food security, our farmers and fisherfolk must have access to the best technology, and it must start with basic access to the Internet,” Green said.

The agriculture minister said it was the Government’s responsibility to provide affordable and healthy diets for all its people and stakeholders and to preserve the country’s natural resources, biodiversity, while tackling the major issue of climate change.

Green said a better system of forecasting periods of glut and shortages was needed to mitigate those scenarios and reduce the vulnerability posed to the sector while increasing resilience at the same time.

There are more than 220,000 registered farmers and some 26,000 fisherfolk locally.

“Those people, or farmers and fisherfolk, are our food heroes,” Green stated, adding that World Food Day presents the world with an opportunity to institute more efficient systems, such as cutting-edge technology, into the sector.

“As a Government, we recognise the critical importance of providing safe and nutritious food, particularly for our poor and vulnerable citizens. This must be, and has been, a critical part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Green said.

“It can only be effectively achieved if we all play our part, our farmers, fisherfolk, the agro-processors, and, of course, our consumers.”

Studies show that there are 30,000 edible plants worldwide, yet the world depends on 66 per cent of foods from just nine plants.

“With the impact of climate change, we have to make sure we have drought-resilient varieties,” he said, adding that food wastage must be tackled even as Jamaica strives towards crop diversification among other targets for food security.