Agriculture numbers unknown

In the Cayman Islands it is impossible to get an accurate count of the amount of land used for farming.

Despite of issues such as last month’s report of stolen produce in East End, there are no statistics available to say how much of Cayman is dedicated to farming. As Assistant Director for the Department of Agriculture Brian Crichlow states, information is still being compiled.

“The Department of Agriculture does not presently have precise data on exactly how many acres of land are currently under agriculture, crop and livestock production,” Mr. Crichlow said.

“The department is working to compile accurate data on this as part of an ongoing revision of the farmers registration process. Once this exercise has been completed the department will be publishing the information.

“Of course there will always be a level of inaccuracy. It is very challenging to identify all backyard producers who may be contributing to the overall agricultural production of the country.”

No data for 2010

In addition, the department readily admits it has no data in regard to farming for last year. Even though data such as the types of crops and livestock raised in Grand Cayman has been collected for 2010, it has yet to be distributed.

“[In regard to] information for 2010, raw data has been collected and now has to be compiled into the appropriate format,” Mr. Crichlow said.

“Once this exercise is completed, this data will be sent to the Economics and Statistics office for publication. [For example] numbers of livestock by type (cattle, goats and pigs) in Grand Cayman is published in the Cayman Islands Compendium of Statistics 2009, for the years 2006 through 2009.”

An overview of the 2009 statistics reveals some interesting findings. Two years ago Grand Cayman had 51 known goat farmers and 2,154 goats on the island which is more than the 16 known pig farmers and 1,063 registered pigs on record in 2009.

Conversely, cattle, one of Cayman’s most popular forms of livestock, were plentiful, with 2,061 registered cattle, and required the most farmers (133).

Few in horticulture

The statistics show a relatively small number of people in the horticultural business. About 286 people were registered as farmers in Grand Cayman in 2009.

According to the compendium, there were 52,830 residents in the Cayman Islands at that time.

The compendium does note though that: “The existing Farmers Registration Programme is currently undergoing a comprehensive review to create a new Agricultural Sector Registration Programme which will more accurately capture and categorise all those persons involved in agricultural-related enterprises, many of whom currently fall outside of the current registration programme.”

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Goats have the highest numbers of all Cayman livestock.
PHOTO: MATTHEW YATES

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