Minister sets ag priorities

Cayman attends Jamaica’s showcase fair

Greenhouse technology, increased regional co-operation and the possible introduction of agricultural science in schools are just some of the subjects on the agriculture agenda of Government Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

Her ministry is officially titled District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs, but agriculture is an important part of her responsibilities.

Her ministry is strengthening regional partnerships in order to develop local agriculture and boost production. ‘In these times of global recession, we must find new ways to improve local agricultural productivity to assure the Islands’ food security,’ she said.

Against this background, the Minister recently led a team to the 57th Annual Denbigh Agricultural Show, held in Jamaica 31 July-2 August. The event was held under the theme ‘Grow What We Eat…Eat What We Grow’.

Denbigh, one of the region’s largest agricultural shows, brought together numerous farmers, agro-processors, farm suppliers, business operators and commercial interests.

While at Denbigh, Government Information Services reported, 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 Minister 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,’ she said.

Cayman’s team also shared information on local agricultural production, as well as measures aimed at developing agri-tourism such as the annual Cayman Islands Agricultural Show and Market at The Grounds.

Another outcome from Denbigh, which this year emphasised the role of youth in agriculture, led Minister O’Connor-Connolly to say she will 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,’ Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly said.

The Minister also disclosed that she is keen to encourage backyard farming on all three of the Cayman Islands, adding: ‘I truly believe that we can make agriculture a part of our everyday lives.’