Mr. Tibbetts puts on farmer’s hat

In order to re-familiarise himself with farmers, the Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts paid an official visit to farms island-wide Thursday.

Accompanying him on the journey were MLA’s Osbourne Bodden, Alfonso Wright, Lucille Seymour, Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Kearney Gomez and agriculture staff.

‘In doing the visits today, we were looking at how the farmers were doing after the government grant that some farmers had received through the Agriculture Department,’ said Mr. Tibbetts.

‘That department has been doing a wonderful job of assistance in the restoration and recovery process for the farmers.

‘All that we have seen shows us that the farmers are doing their very best to take advantage of the assistance that is being given to them and I can expect within a short order that they will be right back to where they were.’

Agriculture Department’s agronomist Alexander Benn said they want the minister to also see what kind of damage that the hurricane had caused and what kind of recovery efforts the farmers had put in place.

At Mr. Harvey Stephenson’s Lookout farm, the Minister toured the goats’ pens, which contained more than 200 health and thriving goats.

Admiring the budding fruit trees, the Minister also heard from Mr. Stephenson how he was coming along in the recovery process.

The group also got to meet Mr. Stephenson’s friendly Shetland pony.

Visiting Willie Ebanks pig farm in North Side, the Minister learned that although stock was down the pig farm was in the recovery process.

‘The problem we are facing at the farm is that we have to butcher too many pigs too small for the demand,’ said Mr. Ebanks.

‘At least every other pig we have to butcher underweight means that we are losing 50 dollars or more. That is how it has been for the past couple of years,’ he said.

‘At the present we have 200 pigs, but if we are not running up to 250-300 we are on the downward trend.

‘Although the pig population is coming up fast from breeders we have put in, we need to come up another 10 sows to keep the flow going a little better,’ he said.

At Kenneth Billings mixed crops farm the Minister learned that crops were doing quite nicely after the hurricane.

Taking a walk through his plantation the minister was shown healthy looking plantain, banana and pepper trees that supported huge bunches of fruits and vegetables.

Although every thing was coming along nicely with the recovery process Mr. Billings said they were having problems with the horn work caterpillar, which were getting fat destroying his pepper trees.

Also on his schedule of farmers to visit were Roger Ebanks, L. Mitchell, B. Bodden and Otto Watler farms in Bodden Town. C. Connolly in North Side, John McLean in East End. M. Archer, George Town and J. Smith in West Bay.