New ag leaders plot modern plans

Matthew Yates

Some familiar faces will guide
local agriculture for the next 12 months.

The Cayman Islands Agricultural
Society has announced its directors and officers for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Four members are returning to the
board: President Errol Watler, First Vice President Anthony Pandohie, Secretary
Joan Barnes and Alvin McLaughlin, formerly second vice president and now a

Three new members are Justin Wood,
second vice president; Sheena Scott, treasurer; and Tad Welcome, director.

The annual general meeting was held
at the Stacy Watler pavilion in Lower Valley.

In other business, the society’s
financial footing has improved in fiscal year 2009-2010, with a cash balance of
$22,457.82, compared to last year’s negative balance of $13,284.08.

Mr. Watler said he was happy that
the society was in a good place financially.

“The 2009-2010 year was
challenging,” he said. “We had to put the society in a position where it can
pay bills. However, we’re in a positive position now as we are paying back our
loans and we’re on track financially.”

The society’s balance sheet shows
some $50,000 committed to paying off loans. Of that amount, $30,000 is going
toward paying off an ‘arena loan’ (presumably for the Stacy Watler pavilion).

Some 30 people attended the meeting
and were treated to dinner by East End supporters. Emcee duties were handled by
Orville Daniels, and chief officer from the Ministry of District
Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture, Kearney Gomez, was the lone
government representative present (Minister Julianna O’Connor Connolly gave her
apologies as she was in Cayman Brac).

Mr. Watler said the society has a
number of initiatives planned for the future.

“Planning for the 2011 Agricultural
Show has already begun and we’re hoping to use more of the social networks like
Facebook and Twitter. We’re also encouraging our farmers to learn from the
Jamaican agricultural society, as in the past we learned about greenhouse
technology from them.

“We’re also looking to assist in
getting roads to East End farm areas so that they aren’t landlocked.

“On the whole,” he said, “we want
to move agriculture to a business. Justin Woods and others within the society
are working on a multi-year strategic plan that will address farming issues
such as the lack of technical assistance and the lack of funds to loan to
farmers for farming-related purchases.”