Tue | Dec 11, 2018

Cayman adopts 'eat what you grow' policy from Ja

Published:Monday | August 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Farmer Miguel Thomas (left) with his winning three-year-old 147lb bull the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon yesterday.
These men try to get this young bull under control at the Denbigh Show in Clarendon yesterday.
Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, minister for youth, sports, agriculture and lands in The Cayman Islands, is greeted by Audley Shaw (centre), minister of industry, commerce and agriculture, and Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon yesterday.
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Agriculture minister in the Cayman Islands Juliana O'Connor-Connolly says her country has adopted Jamaica's mantra of 'eat what you grow, grow what you eat'.

Speaking to The Gleaner on Saturday at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon, O'Connor-Connolly pointed out that the fledgling agriculture industry in her country owed much of its success to lessons she gleaned in the past when she visited Jamaica and attended the show.

"Unlike Jamaica, we don't have a lot of arable land. So, we have adopted the same policy you have here - eat what you grow, grow what you eat. Years ago, we took back [to Cayman] the whole concept of greenhouse farming, and there is hydroponics in Cayman as well, but it's still a miniscule amount," she said

"We still import a lot from Jamaica [and] South Florida. But, more and more, we see that persons are becoming more health-conscious, and they are eating what they grow. We have about two entrepreneurs who go from farm to table, and that's catching on quite a bit," she added.

O'Connor-Connolly also shared with The Gleaner that exporting iguana meat was one of the avenues that the government of the Cayman Islands was exploring in an effort to rid its shores of the green iguana, an invasive species that now threatens to overrun its territories.

"We've allowed one local entrepreneur to have a licence to export them to market in Honduras where it's a delicacy," O'Connor-Connolly told The Gleaner on Saturday.

The amphibian, which washed ashore after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, has since multiplied to the point where it now poses a serious threat to farming, gardening and landscaping efforts.

"The number is astronomical. So, we put some money - CI$1.5 million - into [the] budget for culling this year, and we have just put out requests for proposals seeking the best suggestions on how best to cull [the iguanas]," O'Connor-Connolly disclosed.

"We are hoping to have a programme up and started before the end of this year, and next year, we'll put several million dollars in so that the persons who are properly licensed and trained can cull them."

She continued: "So, we have to approach it from both ends of the totem pole. Hopefully, we can bring them under control because we have our local protected species, which is the blue iguana and the rock iguana, and we don't want them to crossbreed."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com