Ag department to help farmers


    The yam scam that has been digging into the livelihood of East End farmers gained the attention of Cayman Islands Deputy Premier and Minister for District Administration Julianna O’Connor Conolly and agriculture officials, who want to help out.

    The farmers’ plight came to light recently when the story was featured in the Caymanian Compass on how farmers, some of them over 70 years old, were being denied what was their only source of income after yams were stolen from their property.

    Officials were so taken aback by what had happened to these hard-working people, that Mrs. O’Connor Connolly, along with the Ministry’s chief officer, Kearney Gomez, Agriculture Department Director Adrian Estwick and community officer Delmira Bodden, met privately with two of the farmers, Alida Scott and Irvin Forbes, at their homes in East End. They also paid a visit to their plantations and pledged the Ministry’s support in supplying plants to get them growing again.

    Mr. Estwick said the Agriculture Department would be finding plant material for the farmers and that agronomist Raymond Coleman would return to speak to them about planting yams and other crops such as bananas, as the farmers said they have an interest in expanding and diversifying. Mr. Coleman will also give advice in crop care and maintenance.

    Farmers also complained to the officials about wild chickens eating their crops. Mr. Estwick told the farmers his department would provide them with traps to catch the chickens.

    Mrs O’Connor Connolly also assured Ms Scott, whose only income is from farming and fishing, that she would see what could be arranged with Children and Family Services to perhaps lend assistance.

    After hearing first-hand from farmers how difficult it was to make the trip into Little Bluff off the Queen’s Highway, the labour of clearing the plot and planting the yams and then to have their only source of income snatched from them, was hard, Mrs. O’Connor Connolly and the team made the long trek inland to visit the plantations.

    Once there, they were shown where the yams had been taken.

    “It is difficult to find the people who are doing this act of stealing the yams. All we can do is ask the community to be aware of people selling produce, which they may suspect is stolen. If someone comes in with a huge quantity of yams to sell and they are not farmers, they should be questioned. People have an idea of who plants crops and those who do not,” said Mr. Gomez.

    “It was commendable of Mrs. O’Connor Connolly to come and see in person what had transpired after reading about it in the newspaper and to give her support to see if anything could be done,” said Ms Bodden.

    Ms Scott said, both her and her brother Irvin were impressed and appreciated the fact that she visited them and told them they would be helped to get new plants.


    Cayman Islands Deputy Premier Julianna O’Connor Connolly with farmers Irvin Forbes and Alida Scott in their plantation. – Photo: Submitted


    1. Government assistance to help these struggling farmers should include a stimulus package to provide surveillance cameras to capture images of the vandals that unlawfully enter and pillage these farms. Secondly government may want to consider assistance to these farmers in building the proper fencing around the property to protect the farmland with surveillance cameras installed as well.

      I believe this will help alleviate these problems and give these struggling Caymanian farmers a chance to survive and make an honest living.

    2. Government Helping these farmers is a good thing.
      BUT why help them plant more yams for the vandals to steal if no one catches them?

      This can only work if there are cameras set up around a properly fenced farmland so that the images of these people can be captured and they brought to justice.

      A bandAid stickerof replanting more yams is not good enough.
      So do the right thing.

      Plant more yams after you have:-

      fenced off these properties

      and installed surveilance cameras

    3. This is a really bad business, stealing from peoples private farm plots. Many of us would be sympathetic to the sort of response one reads about in the USA – shotguns. But that way lies worse madness in the end. I do hope that the Police, neighbours, a Neighbourhood Watch, whatever it takes, will stop this terrible un-Caymanian behaviour.
      In the old days, the neighbours would have taken the matter into their own hands. Thats why there was only one cell in the Central Police station until the 1920s.

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