Minister encourages Cayman to grow its own food

| 24/08/2009

(CNS): Following a visit to an agricultural show in Jamaica recently, the minister with responsibility for agriculture says that she wants to improve local agricultural production, encourage more people to grow food in their yards and introduce farming classes into schools. “In these times of global recession, we must find new ways to improve local agricultural productivity to assure the islands’ food security,” Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said, adding that with Cayman’s limited agricultural land farmers needed to utilise green house technologies.

The Minister for District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs led a delegation to the 57th Annual Denbigh Agricultural Show, held in Jamaica between 31 July to 2 August. Under the theme "Grow What We Eat…Eat What We Grow", the show, one of the region’s largest, brought together numerous farmers, agro-processors, farm suppliers, business operators and commercial interests. While at Denbigh, the Cayman team also met with agricultural counterparts from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana.

“While the Cayman Islands already has trade relationships with Caribbean countries, including Jamaica from where it imports seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural material, the plan is to strengthen existing relationships and explore new avenues of cooperation,” said O’Connor-Connolly. “We discussed at length how we can support each other in developing our respective agricultural sectors. We also explored how to build stronger links between agriculture and sectors such as tourism, business and manufacturing in order to add value for farmers and reinforce the economy.”

The show’s emphasis on the role of youth in agriculture led the minister to say that she would begin dialogue on the possibility of introducing agricultural science in Cayman’s schools. Following the show, the minister toured a number of farms across Jamaica, and viewed firsthand greenhouse technology, which Caymanian farmers could use to grow their produce. “Some local farmers already use greenhouse technology from Jamaica, but we are looking to expand this,”  O’Connor-Connolly added.

Given the limited land space for agriculture in Cayman, technology that allowed local farmers to grow their produce in a small, controlled environment, would go a long way to help maximise local production, and the minister also disclosed that she is keen to encourage backyard farming on all three of the Cayman Islands. “I truly believe that we can make agriculture a part of our everyday lives.”

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  1. Sarah B says:

    There are just too many people here to ever be able to depend upon ourselves for a meaningful food supply. Farming is a cultural activity, a small business for a few. It is well -supported by the DoA with free bull-dozer, free veterinary service, and numerous other services and an administrative staff with a budget in the millions of dollars. But no amount of Government support will be enough. Cayman is too small with too many people and will never be self-sufficient in it’s food supply – and more subsidies for farmers or giving them free use of land won’t help. We all like local produce but it is not the main component of anyone’s diet or of any restaurant’s menu. Why should one business be singled out for all this government help? Perhaps there are other, more profitable businesses who could use this "extra" land for something more valuable? – and maybe some should be left in it’s natural state as green space.

    Do we really anticipate a time when there will be no way to import food? This seems like a survivalist fantasy scenerio. Backyard gardens are wonderful – farming is a fine occupation for those who enjoy it – but it’s not the future of this country. This is politics, not forward planning.

  2. Fish bandit says:

    I wonder if the minister has considered the system of "Alotments", which is so popular in Europe, where citizens can rent a plot of land from the local authority and grow their own food.

    These plots become ever more fertile over the years and are fenced in, to prevent theft, in blocks of 20 or 30 together.

    It is a wonderful system which enables everyone to have a secure vegetable garden to grow their own fruit and crops for their family and costs a few dollars each month to rent.

    Perhaps if they were provided in sufficiently large enough numbers, they could be run along the principles of "stratas" and have a bore hole forirrigation, secure perimeter fencing and night security to prevent theft.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good God Fish bandit! Are you being ironic? You cannot possibly believe this old 1950s nonsense you wrote. Have you lived in Cayman, do you know the soil/ground conditions? I backyard farm-I can’t dig anywhere in my acreage as it’s cliffrock.

      Fenced in to prevent theft? Huh? In modern England? In modern Cayman? Yes, you must be joking or naive and or demented.

      • Fish bandit says:

        So you (presumably a Caymanian) are saying that this place is nothing but a worthless lump of rock covered in thieving locals and anyone who tries to suggest ways to help improve the health and happiness of the population is a joking, naive, demented ex-pat?

        Get real, the North Side is very fertile and there is plenty of land available to grow crops, equally there must be ways where what people grow, can be kept safe. 

        Being offensive is not in any way intelligent or productive and simply reinforces the extreme prejuduices harboured by some narrow minded individuals who write anonymously.  

        • Anonymous says:

          The alotment has seen a huge regrowth in popularity in the UK over the last decade, largely as a result of more people living in flats and not having gardens.

  3. Anonymous says:

    what are we going to do with thieves that are going around stealing crops and selling, plant more more to lose, the Comissioner is against gun licences.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get a dog, the Humane Society has lots (too many) of them!

    • Anonymous says:

      Off topic – Shooting thieves is definitely not the solution.

      On topic – I’d love to see Cayman growing more if it’s own food suply so it can be less dependant on external distributors.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Aunt Julia I just love your Farmers hat.

    Wonder how much that cost the Government.

    Should have loaned it to Kurt when he was Minister of Agriculture.

    • Anonymous says:

      Which are you referring to as being foolishness the comment? Or the idea that we should all become subsistence farmers?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Aunt Julia I just love your Farmers hat.

    Wonder how much that cost the Government.

    Should have loaned it to Kurt when he was Minister of Agriculture.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Having read the comments to date, simply remember that anything can be done, if you want (need) it bad enough. Complaining about I don’t have this or that to get me going, will indeed go nowhere.

    Clear your heads, look around you, make deals with current land owners that have more land than they need, be inventive, lead by example and use your God given skills to grow something, anything at all. It’s not brain surgery, it’s called farming!

    Not only will you reap from the seeds you have sown, you will also induce a much healthier life style, possibly lose weight for those who could do without a couple of pounds here and there so you will eventually need less food, stop eating meat, get the whole family involved to get up at 5 in the morning and care for your reward before going to work or school, go to bed at 9 at night to get your 8 hours of required sleep.

    Give it a try, your body, mind, soul and your pocket book will thank you for it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a visionary, preparing Cayman youth for the 18th century.

  8. Quincy Brown says:

    Sell land at expensive prices if you must…sell cars at expensive prices if you must….however, sell food at reasonable prices so thatall can afford it.  We must all eat to live!  I understand there are some with out food in the Cayman Islands.  Are these people lazy, ill or unemployed?  Serious times ahead and no will escape.  Being poor could be a blessing….as the "have nots" will be a constant bother to the "haves."

    Heaven help us ALL!

    • Entitled says:

      Well Quincy, if those without food would just sell the land, cars, homes, jewlery, etc that they could not afford in the first place, I’m sure they would be just fine

      • Anonymous says:

        Sounding a little Socialistic these days Quincy.

        Do you know if Aunt Julia have any Farm land that I can borrow.

        • Quincy Brown says:

          Capitalism: Pay onto Ceaser what is due to Ceaser.  And….servant is not above his Master.  The proletariat working for the bourgeoisie.  The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The poor must remain poor in order to continue the process of the rich getting richer. 


          Communism: Taking the 2 fish and five loaves of bread, praying and blessing the food—then feeding the people equally.  Common-Union or Communion….

          Let us be one in Christ!  We  must all work. We all deserve education, at differing levels perhaps?  We own nothing as it all belongs to God…or the state.

          What does the future hold for Las Turtugas?

          Would you rather be poor in a rich country or poor in a poor country? 


          Quincy Brown

  9. Quincy Brown says:

    Good ideas Minister O’connor-Connolly!  We also need to involve our youth in the agricultural process of backyard farming.  I have always said…"Any country that relies on another country entirely for food….is a foolish country."

    Quincy Brown


  10. Tits on a Bull says:

    Ingenious! Why didn’t I think of that? Growing your own food! What a novel concept! Darn it, I too could be getting paid over 100k a year if only I was so smart!

    Now if we could just find a way to stop charging as much or more for the home grown products as the imported ones, we would be well on our way to fruitfullness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed but even if it was the same price, the money would go back into the local economy as opposed to out the country.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Great idea, only a few missing parts. Good soil, rainfall, landmass & cheap labour. Are the young people of Cayman going to turn to farming for a future?

  12. Senor Pisacco says:

    You could just have a standard fill in the blanks story:

    "Today Juliana went to a jolly to [xxxx].  She made some inane comments about something she knew nothing about indirectly related to [xxxx].  Meanwhile other members of the government were glad they had managed to persuade her to take such a laughable cabinent post"

  13. Anonymous says:

    There are plenty of good farmlands in North Side but farmers cannot get to some of them as there are no roads.  The PPM was approached by the farmers about making dirt roads so that more farmland could have access but as usual, withthe PPM it was all talk and it got ignored.  North Siders will not forget how ignored they were under the PPM.  Hopefully Ezzard Miller will alleviate some of that as he is doing a really good job.  Mr. Miller, please give us some roads and we will farm!

    • Twyla M Vargas says:

      22:22 Northsider,  I think you made a good request, and to the right person.  If Mr Ezzard Miller dont assist you all with this request, it is because he cant get it done, not that he wont try.  Northside has the best farm land on the Island.  Sweet and loamy soil, and I agree that people in that district should be assisted with farm land bypass to their property.   On like Bodden Town, the soil is mostly marl and salty.  The best places are Northward and Lowervalley.  I am very positive if an offer is made to people of this district to assist with farming they would.  However, now that I have thrown out the line lets see if the Government or pribate individuals will encourage and assist residents in to entering this venture.  Blessed

  14. Anonymous says:

    This trip sounds like another missed opportunity to cut unnecessary spending.  Did a whole delegation need to go?  Just because we’ve sent a delegation in the past didn’t mean we had to send one this year when we are looking to cut costs.  Send them next year if things are better by then.  How about the go talk to some of the local farmers as a starting point?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Such a wonderful idea. Everyone can benefit from growing a few vegetables/fruits in their own yards, as it seems to be a practice that we tend to be are moving away from in resent years. Not only would the foods grown be a way to save some money on grocery bills (every little bit counts) but the food would also be alot more healthy for people.

    When it comes to introducing farming classes into schools, that is a great idea, for it would not only teach the youth about local produce and how they are grown but may also incourage them to eat healthier.

  16. Anonymous says:

    for all of you that are moaning about soil… use Hydroponic technology to grow tomatoes, lettuce, etc.  No soil needed, just pebbles, hoses, water, light, the right selection of fertilizers.  Heck, you can use the space in the North Sound to place the greenhouses. 

    Imagine, home grown fresh fruit and veggies… there is money to be made for some smart Caymanian.

    • Makam says:

      You as so many people make statements without knowing what you are talking about. There was a hydroponic farm on the island! But the costs of running it made the produce very expensive, so commercially it was not viable. Get your facts right before you pontificate.

    • A lone voice in the dark says:

      Why should it be money that can be made by a smart Caymanian?  Why not a smart expat who happens to have a farming licence?!!  Novel thought eh?

      • RealistCapitalist says:

        Because the smart expat would go and grow food in a larger market and not invest infrastructure capital in this unstable economic environment. 

        That and the fact that you’d need to gift both a controlling interest and 60% of the value of the business to a Caymanian, just for the privilege of doing business in the Cayman Islands.

        Any questions?

  17. Twyla M Vargas says:

    GROWING OUR OWN FOOD I think it is a gread idea, but can we get some assistance from the government with farm land.  I know the Government has alot of land that they are not using, why dont they make an offer to Caymanians who want to farm this land to do that until they need it.  I think it is a great thing, but where is the land.  In my back yard I grow sugar cane, plantains and mangoes, but no more than two or three trees, because I do not have the space.  If I was given the opportunity of obtaining a piece of land to farm I would jump at the offer.  Lets now hear that we can get land to farm at a lease period.


  18. Anonymous. says:

    Madama Minister, why did you not brick back some of that beautiful agricultural soil with you.

    Give me the soil and I will produce the food for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      PREACH!  We have little to no decent soil here in Cayman – if we could just have a little of that lovely Bauxite, I am sure many of us would far rather grown our own than pay the extortionate prices Fosters and Kirks charge for imported and home-grown veg.  I already grow my own in my yard, but it’s hard work in such crappy ground.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Brainless! We’ve been going to Denbigh for years-just a junket for whoever is Minister and PS. You CANNOT compare JA and Cayman