Farmers lauded against backdrop of food insecurity

| 26/01/2016 | 20 Comments
Cayman News Service

Agriculture Minister Kurt Tibbetts lauds farmers

(CNS): As local supermarkets issued warnings over the difficulties sourcing fresh produce because of unseasonable weather in the US and Mexico, the importance of agriculture in the Cayman Islands was brought into sharp focus Monday. Farmers were the subject of this year’s National Heroes Day celebrations and the increasing reliance on the local food supply was pointed out by government leaders.

“The agriculture sector is vital to our country, contributing significantly to food and nutrition security, culinary tourism and cultural preservation,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said in his address to more than 300 local farmers who were named in the hero roll call.

Despite the recent increase in the amount of fresh produce grown in Cayman, the islands are still a very long way from being food secure but government said it is working towards expanding the sector further.

“But while efforts to guide and assist farmers will continue far into the future, we are far from becoming self-sufficient in the supply of local foods,” said Agriculture Minister Kurt Tibbetts.

He said local farmers had a “unique approach” and that many are combining common-sense with the benefits of science and technology. In 2014 government partnered with the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute to help grow the local agriculture sector by assisting farmers to produce better quality products.

“Inside the offices, conference rooms and research labs there is a dynamic collaborative process taking place. The Agricultural Society, the Department of Agriculture, as well as private agencies and universities strive to combine science, demographics and economic formulas to guide decisions on what animals and crops are best-suited to our environment,” Tibbetts said. “The outcome of all of this data and hard work has filtered through to our daily lives, and has even influenced events such as the Taste of Cayman and Cayman Cookout. Fresh local produce is not only sought after in supermarkets, it is featured in event advertising, helping to attract world-class chefs and dedicated ‘foodies’.”

McLaughlin said there was an increasing appreciation of organic produce among the public and with farmers producing more than ever, this was contributing to healthier lifestyles. “And because of the high quality of produce, meat and other agriculture products, more and more supermarkets are stocking their shelves with local foodstuffs and restaurants are serving local fare,” he added.

Tibbetts said that government’s current focus on nutritional awareness and culinary tourism had been made possible by the commitment of local farmers to cultivation, animal husbandry, and to the health and safety of our food sources.

“Their names reflect a broad scope of undertakings and careers, with one common denominator – a passion for harvesting fresh, bountiful crops for our enjoyment and sustenance. For this, we owe them a lasting debt of gratitude,” he said ahead of the 320 awards handed out to heroes past and present.

Premier’s Heroes Day message

Minister Tibbetts’ Heroes Day Message

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (20)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Pie in the sky. There are good reasons there are so few full time farmers. Hardly any good soil, unreliable rainfall, no surface water to speak of, high equipment costs, limited labor supply, high nighttime temperatures, etc. Not to mention the bugs and fungus.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would love to know which civil servant or (more likely) politician came up with the term “emerging pioneer”. It does, of course, quite simply, not make any sense whatsoever.Not in the English language at least.

  3. Anonymous says:

    An award for Kearney Sidney Gomez?? Say wha’?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nothing is regulated here with regards to government subsidized feed for livestock and fertilizers/pesticides imported by the Department of Agriculture. Any claims that farmers are producing organic crops/meat have to be taken with a ‘grain of salt’ so accept this at your own risk. There is no institution here that can verify that any produce/meat you buy that has been grown in the Cayman Islands is “organically grown” or produced without the use of harmful chemicals. You have to have a lot of trust!

    Remarkably, the Department of Agriculture does not appear to have a useful website – see . One would expect such a well lauded industry (Heroes Day 300plus awards) to have a better public presence to assist farmers and the general public. Where are the lists of subsidized livestock feed, fertilizers and pesticides sold by the Department? Where is the information or forms to fill out to request assistance with land clearing? Where is the information on the artificial insemination program for cattle? I thought that all Government departments were required to have a proper internet presence! Who is the Department of Agriculture’s FOI Manager? Come on Chief Officer of PLAHI & Ministry staff, this is embarrassing for the Department of Agriculture!!!! What are the reasons for this? Maybe more Caymanians and local residents might take more interest in farming if information was easier to access and did not require a painful phone call to the Department of Agriculture!

    And another thing, the archaic Animal Law desperately needs to be brought into the 21st Century!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am happy to see that there is more local produce available, however I do wonder what, if any, standards are in place to ensure safety, both to those that consume the produce, as well as those who grow it.

    There appears to be no law in place here to control which chemicals can be used to control insects and diseases on produce (let alone anywhere else they may be used), and I have heard anecdotal evidence of chemicals that are not for human consumption being used on local produce, which is frightening!

    The Department of Agriculture should strictly control what can be used on produce to ensure a safe and quality product to all.

    And while we’re at it, if the local beef could be ‘hung’ for a while before being sold, instead of going straight out for sale, I think the quality would be a fantastic 😉

    • Anonymous says:

      A very good point. In a recent article about the problem with tomatoes this year, one farmer had mentioned…..”I THOUGHT IT WAS BECAUSE I OVERSPRAYED IT”.
      What she(he) over sprayed it with? Locally grown produce can be loaded with god knows that kind of chemicals. Have the Cayman Islands soils ever been tested for dioxin?

  6. Anonymous says:

    the land is worth to much this will never go anywhere…

    • Anonymous says:

      Farming isn’t profitable in Cayman. Only the old Caymanians still farm because they don’t usually need to worry about mortgages or feeding young children. A family can’t be sustained on a farmers salary. It’s the sad but true reality of the Cayman islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        A main factor which is not mentioned is farms in the US are heavily government subsidies and if they are not subsidies than they are given unbelievable tax breaks. Why do you think there are so many wineries in the US now? They are viewed as agriculture hence they receive these tax breaks on land, houses, and earnings. Maybe we should discuss why the prices at Fosters are do high? They issue a statement about vegetables then why did ground beef go up .50cents last week or the countless other items that they tact an extra 25 cents or 50 cents on every six months? Maybe government should reduce the duty on Food given it is necessity.

      • Anonymous says:

        Farmers don’t get salaries, they have to take huge risks every season that everything will go according to plan and that their cost of living and bank payments will be met with a harvest they can sell. Not an easy gig.

  7. Anonymous says:


  8. Sharkey says:

    I didn’t hear the Premier or the Minister say how they are going to help the farmers achieve their goals, all I read is leading to restrictions. I think that this should have been the time that they should have layed out a good plan with benefits and encouragement to further make farming achievable in Cayman, . I think the farmers are going to learn that they have to be more than farmers , because these politicians are for Government and the big campaign donation.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hypocrisy! No Government since the 1970’s has done enough to support local farmers, such as increasing tariffs on certain imported products which can be grown locally, so that local farmers can better compete. Such as reducing WP fees for imported labour or duty concessions on farm equipment. Small discounts for fertilizers and weed-killers at Dept. of Agriculture is only a start and nothing more has been done.

    In the 1970’s we had dairy farms & juice processing facilities, egg farms, beef farms, Today…..?????

    CNS – is it possible to post the list of recipients, please? I know some foreign farm entreprenures from the 1970’s who were nominated, wonder if they made the list?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Pointless wote pandering.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m curious, do Farmers have the possibility of exportation of farm produce and goods?

  12. Anonymous says:

    We hear this every year, yet no measurable change is achieved. Farming in this country is no better advance that what it was five years ago. Any advancement is purely on the farmers part.

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