Agricultural incentives are sought

The development of agriculture in Cayman and how foodstuffs are imported should be looked at, MLA Lucille Seymour suggested in Finance Committee.

The George Town Member said on Thursday that the country’s vulnerability had been demonstrated recently, with the bad weather meaning no ships arriving for a while and supplies in the shops running low.

Miss Seymour wondered if there could be some sort of cottage industry where incentives were given to home-owners who grew perishables, to help them survive in the event of a catastrophe.

She also felt there should be negotiations with neighbouring countries so, if Cayman could not get supplies from the USA, it could get food from places like Jamaica or Honduras.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said a protocol, which allowed for the importation of such things as sweet potatoes and yams was already in place and shipments did arrive.

With regards to incentives for home owners, a programme had been in place for a time, with back yard farmers being given every encouragement, by helping them with plants, seeds and other things, he said.

Mr. Tibbetts said he was surprised how many home owners had vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

It would be easy to see if there were any more incentives that could be looked at to encourage back yard farmers, he told the committee.

Mr. Tibbetts said, had the recent situation with the ships gone on for two or three days more, alternatives would have been used from the geographical locations already mentioned.

One difficulty was that the boats could not get into port because of the weather. The boats were loaded but could not land, he said.

There had also been problems with the airports in Florida for a few days, he added.

Sister Islands MLA Julianna O’Connor-Connolly told the committee there were a number of incentives on Cayman Brac, but she believed farmers there would be helped by an affordable supply of water.

Mr. Tibbetts said ways of assisting by means of storage tanks and other things were being looked at.