Cay­man agri­cul­ture be­com­ing force to be reck­oned with – gov’t min­is­ter

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Christo­pher Serju Gleaner Writer christo­pher.serju@glean­erjm.com

Fam­ily farms con­tinue to prove them­selves as hav­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness model, de­spite fac­ing chal­lenges in ar­eas such as cost of pro­duc­tion.

SEVEN MILE BEACH, Grand Cay­man: THE CAY­MAN Is­lands on Mon­day served no­tice that its grow­ing agri­cul­ture sec­tor is on the way to achiev­ing some mea­sure of food se­cu­rity, even with some chal­lenges.

Kurt Tib­betts, Cay­man’s min­is­ter of plan­ning, lands, agri­cul­ture, hous­ing and in­fra­struc­ture, said, dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of Caribbean Week of Agri­cul­ture 2016, that even though the size of his na­tion’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor is rel­a­tively small, it is fast be­com­ing a force to be reck­oned with.

“Fam­ily farms con­tinue to prove them­selves as hav­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness model, de­spite fac­ing chal­lenges in ar­eas such as cost of pro­duc­tion,” he told par­tic­i­pants at The Westin Ho­tel, point­ing to the great di­ver­sity across farm­ing en­ter­prises, with vary­ing lev­els of prof­itabil­ity. In fact, the agri­cul­ture min­is­ter, who is also a small farmer, of­fered a tem­plate for suc­cess.

Suc­cess in agri­cul­ture, he noted, is de­pen­dent on in­vest­ment in time, en­ergy, pa­tience and, of course, fund­ing.

But this is not enough, Tib­bets de­clared.

“It also re­quires the adop­tion of a holis­tic value-chain ap­proach across an en­tire spec­trum. This would in­clude the stages from plant­ing to ir­ri­ga­tion, to har­vest­ing, pro­cess­ing, stor­age and trans­porta­tion, all of which are vi­tally nec­es­sary to bring the farm to the ta­ble. Against this back­drop, the chal­lenge for all of us in this room is to come up with the ways to at­tract that in­vest­ment to grow jobs, to grow ex­ports and to grow our economies, and with that ob­jec­tive in mind, our work at this con­fer­ence takes on greater mean­ing,” he said.

The 14th an­nual stag­ing of Caribbean Week of Agri­cul­ture, which runs from Oc­to­ber 24-28, is be­ing hosted by an as­so­ciate mem­ber of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity (CARICOM) for the first time. Of sig­nif­i­cance also is the wide rep­re­sen­ta­tion with par­tic­i­pants from Brazil, The Nether­lands, New Zealand, as well as Pa­cific is­lands such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Van­u­atu.

‘In­vest­ing in Food and Agri­cul­ture’ is the theme for the event sup­ported by the Nether­lands­based Tech­ni­cal Cen­tre for Agri­cul­tural and Ru­ral Co­op­er­a­tion, with col­lab­o­ra­tion from the CARICOM Sec­re­tariat, In­ter-Amer­i­can In­sti­tute for Co­op­er­a­tion on Agri­cul­ture, the Caribbean Agri­cul­tural Re­search and De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute, and the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the United Na­tions.

This is fit­ting for the Bri­tish-ruled is­lands, ac­cord­ing to Tib­bets.

“The sub­ject of in­vest­ment is most ap­pro­pri­ate for a con­fer­ence that is be­ing held in a ju­ris­dic­tion such as this, which is well known for its pro­vi­sion of fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

The theme ‘In­vest­ing in Food and Agri­cul­ture’ sig­ni­fies the im­por­tance of in­vest­ment for both pri­mary agri­cul­ture and the de­vel­op­ment of our food in­dus­try, and as such, it is a topic that has rel­e­vance to all of us. Like any other in­dus­try, agri­cul­ture re­quires sus­tained in­vest­ment to flour­ish and to sup­port con­tin­u­ous in­no­va­tion within its realm.

“Cap­i­tal must be sought from both do­mes­tic and over­seas sources. Strate­gies and poli­cies must demon­strate that the agri­cul­ture sec­tor is vi­brant and in­deed valu­able. Part of the de­lib­er­a­tion through­out the week should, there­fore, be fo­cused on cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that is at­trac­tive to in­vest­ment and fa­cil­i­tates on­go­ing de­vel­op­ment, im­proves food se­cu­rity, and stim­u­lates eco­nomic growth within our bor­ders.”

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