Agriculture improving

Agriculture in the Cayman Islands has rebounded from the effects of Hurricane Ivan, Minister of Agriculture Kurt Tibbetts said at the Cabinet press briefing on Friday.

‘I’m extremely encouraged by the new zeal in the farmers since Hurricane Ivan, especially the livestock farmers.’

Mr. Tibbetts explained that much of Grand Cayman’s grazing lands were damaged by salt water flooding during Hurricane Ivan, which resulted in many of the island’s animals being slaughtered because there was no way to feed them.

The government initiated a feeding assistance programme, which allowed other farmers to keep their livestock.

‘I’m very proud of the farming community at this point of time,’ Mr. Tibbetts said. ‘I’ve never seen the animals look so good.’

Mr. Tibbetts particularly mentioned the cattle, pigs and goats on the island.

The quality of the meat from livestock has improved as well, he said.

‘All the major supermarkets have gotten to the point where they are buying carcasses wholesale from local farmers and putting the meat on their shelves.

‘The animals are in good shape, the quality of the meat is excellent, and [local supermarkets] area willing to let local meat compete with imported meat, giving the discerning consumer choice.’

Mr. Tibbetts said he eats the local beef.

‘It’s all I buy.’

Farmers got another boost when a large shipment of prime, purebred livestock arrived on the island last Thursday as part of the government’s Agriculture Sector Assistance Programme to help farmers recover from Hurricane Ivan.

Besides replenishing animals lost as a result of Ivan, the new animals will improve the genetic quality of local herds.

‘There were 85 goats and 46 head of cattle imported for 41 farmers,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

The animals will be held at the Department of Agriculture’s facility in Lower Valley for a short quarantine period, during which they will undergo veterinary inspection and certification before being distributed to the farmers.

Mr. Tibbetts noted that there was increased interest in livestock farming.

‘Younger farmers are getting involved, and some professionals – and I don’t mean farming professionals.’

Having people of high means getting involved in local livestock will allow for technical advances in the farming sector, Mr. Tibbetts said.