(CMR) In a monumental stride towards sustainable agriculture and food security, the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing, and Infrastructure has implemented five Flex Farms or mobile hydroponic farms as part of The Cayman Islands Food and Nutrition Security policy (CIFNS). This initiative began on Thursday, October 5th.
The introduction of Flex Farms comes as a result of the collective efforts of the Ministry, the Department of Agriculture, and the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator (CCSA) program. The Cayman Islands Food and Nutrition Security Policy (CIFNS), a significant policy, 12 years in the making, aims to bolster the Islands' food and nutrition security measures.
The partnership with the CCSA is expected to not only benefit the local farming community but also play a pivotal role in the national School Garden program at both the primary and secondary school levels. This initiative seeks to familiarize Cayman's youth with innovative technologies and sustainable agricultural practices.
The Cayman Islands have been granted five Flex Farms from the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator. The Ministry, under the direction of Minister Jay Ebanks, is exploring options to acquire additional units and partnering with other government entities/departments.
The Caribbean Climate smart accelerator program is supported by Sony Music Global Social Justice Fund and by agriculture technology frontrunner, Fork Farms. These Flex Farms, heralded as the epitome of sustainable farming, are mobile hydroponic farms capable of growing a diverse range of foods efficiently and affordably throughout the year. Remarkably, a single Flex Farm can produce 25 pounds of lettuce in just 28 days while occupying a mere 9-square-feet of space.
Minister Jay Ebanks, accompanied by Deputy Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, who is also Minister for Education and Minister for District Administration & Lands, delivered the first Flex Farm units on Thursday, October 5th, to Edna Moyle Primary School, Beacon Farms, Clifton Hunter High School and The Department of Agriculture, each receiving one unit.
The next delivery to Layman Scott High School in Cayman Brac is to be scheduled over the next few weeks. Each school equipped with one unit, provides the opportunity to introduce students to agricultural training for the very first time.
Additionally, Beacon Farms, a transformative space for individuals recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, provides an innovative introduction into farming.
The Department of Agriculture, the operational wing of the Ministry, will oversee the project, ensuring that the intended outcomes are met and providing timely progress updates via social media.
Ebanks, Minister of Planning, Agriculture, Housing, and Infrastructure, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership. He stated:
“The Cayman Islands is thrilled to be recognized and chosen for this pioneering project. As we continue to enhance and modernize our Agricultural Sector, these Flex Farms will significantly complement our efforts, strengthening the food and nutrition security endeavours of the Cayman Islands.”
Chief Officer Eric Bush added, “This collaboration underscores our unwavering commitment to innovative solutions that cater to our community's needs. By embracing the future of agriculture, we are not only securing our food supply but also laying the foundation for generations to come for the future of the Cayman Islands.”
The Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator program plans to extend this initiative to other nations, advocating for enhanced food security, sustainability, and social inclusion throughout the Caribbean.