Farmers get $1M

Cabinet has allocated $1 million to the Cayman Islands farming community to help repair Hurricane Ivan damage.

The money will be used for a variety of things including clearing pastures and restoring and replanting of crops, said Agriculture Minister Gilbert McLean.

His announcement came at the opening of Agriculture Day yesterday.

Thousands flocked to the Agriculture Society pavilion from as early as 7 am and cashed in on many plants, produce, food and arts and crafts.

‘The spirit of Agriculture lives. Today is positive proof of this. When you do the impossible, there is no end to the possibilities’ he said.

Mr. Mclean said the Department of Agriculture is assisting with re-erecting fences along property boundaries, he also said it was providing support by housing and feeding livestock and farmers were granted access to feed that was subsidized for a four month period covering the dry season.

Mr. Mclean said government plans to assist in the revitalization of Cayman’s agricultural sector by offering monetary assistance packages for agricultural business projects. ‘This effort will be focused specifically on plans that have clear market opportunities and sound potential for financial success, such as the cultivation of short term crops, goat production and aquaculture projects. Help will be in the form of grants, soft loans or a combination of these. The goal is to develop new financially viable farming opportunities, which will form the economic basis for the sector, while also helping the part-time traditional farmer,’ he said.

Mr. Mclean also spoke of the need for the Department of Agriculture to expand in areas of veterinary medicine, agronomy and aquaculture. By doing these greater expertise would be available to guide the agricultural process in theses areas and provide technical support to persons and businesses, which operate in these fields.

Mr. McLean also made mention of the Agriculture Bulldozer Policy of which he took to Cabinet. He said it gave him great pleasure to report that the use of the bulldozer for agricultural purposes would be made available at minimal cost as was the original practice. Also in the process of this review a change was made in the designation of a farmer, which will be determined by the Chief Agriculture and Veterinary Officer. A farmer may include a back yard farmer who could benefit from subsidized assistance in such form as seedlings, seeds or technical advice.

He also said the Cayman spirit is alive and kicking.

‘Just your presence here today demonstrates that you appreciate and you are able to share the set backs that our farmers have suffered as they strive to pull the pieces back together. These past few months have been an unusual time for all of us and have tested our resolve.

‘This exhibition cries shame on the nay-sayers, as the efforts of many individuals along with the help of nature, has made it possible to display crops, hand-craft, livestock, poultry and food.

‘As we look around us, we can see that nature is sending us a message of hope. The trees that were bent, uprooted or broken are springing back to life It is a message to all of us that Cayman is alive and that we must come together to work toward rebuilding, re-growing and replanting Cayman.’

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