Cream of the crop honoured at awards ceremony
Agriculture could expand to become another pillar of the Cayman Islands’ economy, Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly told farmers at an awards ceremony.
Ms O’Connor-Connolly highlighted agri-tourism, which involves using farms for tourist ventures, as another potential growth area for the sector.
And she said new methods and technology could help farmers get more from the land.
The premier said Caymanian farmers were already showing they could multiply their output by working smarter, without necessarily working harder.
“I want to believe that I will live long enough to see agriculture established as the third pillar of our industry in Cayman. That is a tall order but we need to dream big,” she said during a speech to farmers and growers at the annual Agriculture Show awards ceremony on Thursday, 8 May.
Justin Woods, president of the Cayman Islands Agriculture Society, said the farming industry had expanded over the past few years, particularly in livestock production. He said more restaurants were buying local than ever before.
“Globally there is a big push for people to buy healthy local produce. A lot of Cayman’s farmers are organic or near to organic.
“The food is fresher, more nutritious and you know exactly where it came from. The restaurants have recognised that and, for that reason, they are supporting local farmers.”
He believes there is room for further growth in the sector, with much of Cayman’s produce coming from overseas.
“Because of our population, both resident and transient, there is a significant amount of produce imported. The only thing we have ever really been self sufficient in is green bananas, and that was before Hurricane Ivan.
“There is definitely room for growth in the agriculture industry. The biggest hindrance is the availability of land. Because of our rapid development, land prices are not cheap, it is difficult to afford land for farming.
“We’ve been working to try to get land for farmers at peppercorn lease rate.”
He said the kind of farming possible in Cayman was not likely to make anyone wealthy, but there was potential for job growth and greater food security through expansion of the sector.
He added: “There are a number of farmers who have proven that you can make a very good living from agriculture.”
There are 254 people working in agriculture, forestry and fishing across the Cayman Islands, according to the latest labour force survey.
The leaders of the industry were among those acknowledged at the awards ceremony on Thursday, 8 May.
Kent Rankin took the minister’s award for most outstanding farmer-of-the-year. Mr. Rankin also won crop farmer of the year and was runner-up in the livestock farming category.
There was special recognition also for the youngest farmer on show, seven-year-old Areon Anglin. The youngster also picked up second place in the poultry exhibitor awards.
The winners of the youth cook-off competition were also acknowledged at the awards ceremony, held at the government offices.
Mr. Wood said it had been a great event with the standard of exhibitions and the quality of the produce improving every year.
“I look forward to seeing what our farmers can achieve in the future if they continue to strive as they have been.”
Winners at the 46th Annual Agricultural Show awards ceremony included:
Farmer of the year – Kent Rankin
Livestock farmer of the year – William Chisholm
Crop farmer of the year – Kent Rankin
Most improved livestock farmer – Clifford Powery
Most improved crop farmer – Deanna Lookloy
Champion exhibitor (livestock) – Paul Bodden
Champion exhibitor (crops) – Errol Watler
Youngest farmer on show – Areon Anglin
1st Place district exhibitor – Bodden Town