(CMR) Over ninety commercial farmers across Grand Cayman have so far received payment of $1.7 million dollars from the Ministry of Agriculture under the Tropical Storm Grace Farmers’ Assistance Project.
To date, the Ministry of Agriculture has received 123 applications under the project. A total of 122 assessments of the farms have been completed, with 106 applications approved for payment.
The Tropical Storm Grace Farmers’ Assistance Project is aimed at providing support to commercial farmers who suffered loss of income or livestock as well as damage to crops and farm infrastructure as a result of the storm in August.
A presentation of the checks was made to some of the farmers at the Department of Agriculture (DoA) on November 22, and in attendance were Minister of Agriculture Hon. Jay Ebanks, Parliamentary Secretary Isaac, Acting Chief Officer Leyda Nicholson-Makasare; Director, Department of Agriculture Adrian Estwick, Assistant Director Brian Crichlow, other members of the Ministry and DoA team as well as persons from the farming community.
Minister of Hon. Jay Ebanks stated that the Government’s allocation of three million dollars to the project is the single largest investment of its kind in the agricultural sector. He urged the farmers “to make a special effort to use the assistance for their farm rehabilitation and recovery efforts, as they continue to strengthen their resilience to boost the Islands’ food and nutrition security”.
Parliamentary Secretary Isaac Rankine also encouraged the farmers to use the assistance to gain maximum benefit from their farms, noting, “I am very pleased that the Government can assist the farmers in such a meaningful way. It is good to see all the progress we have made in farming. I look forward to seeing Caymanian farmers utilizing technology to transform the Islands’ agriculture sector, placing them on the cutting edge of production”.
Commenting on project, Errol Watler of Sparky’s Amazing Farm said he grateful to the Government for the assistance provided. “The COVID-19 pandemic and the storm caused a set-back to many farmers so this support with help us to get back up and running again,” he noted.
Another commercial farmer Evelyn Rocket stated, “I want to applaud the Ministry and the Department of Agriculture for such initiative to support local farmers. My hope is that someday we will be in a position where we can produce more local foods for our Islands so we are less dependent on foreign imports”.
Applicants to the project are subjected to farm assessments conducted by representatives from Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure.