Thursday 26 November, 2020

Farmers impacted by COVID-19 get additional $1M from Cayman government

Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture & Lands Juliana O’Connor Connolly

Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture & Lands Juliana O’Connor Connolly

Due to the negative impacts of COVID-19 on Cayman Islands' agriculture sector, Cayman's Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, Agriculture and Lands annual appropriation Transfer Payment (TP) 84, that provides grants to farmers for a variety of purposes, has been increased by CI $1 million from its original appropriation budget of CI $20,000 for each of the years 2020 and 2021.

Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands Hon. Juliana O’Connor Connolly made this announcement in her statement in the Legislative Assembly in relation to the exceptional circumstance appropriation changes resulting in the first 2020 Supplementary Appropriations of the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture & Lands on October 23.

Under TP 84, grant funding is made available to "farmers or agricultural organisations/ committees for small and medium projects which support the agricultural industry, improving the sector’s infrastructure and/ or enhancing food security."

In 2018, $254,000 was allocated to farmers under TP 84 despite the original appropriation of $16,000 that was budgeted for each of the two years, 2018 and 2019.

The Ministry in consultation with the Department of Agriculture (DoA), the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society, and local agriculture stakeholders will be using the added funds to provide farmers with assistance in the purchasing of agricultural inputs from the Department of Agriculture. 

Farmers will be approved for assistance through application to the Ministry.  The Ministry will issue this approval to the applicant and the Department of Agriculture. 

The farmer can then collect the inputs from the DoA.  The Ministry will then transfer monies to the DoA to cover the cost of the inputs purchased by the farmer.

Already threatened by the harsh reality of low prices, competition with imported food, natural disasters and climate change impacts such as drought, flooding and increases in pests, farmers in Cayman also face myriad impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. These include loss of direct markets from the closure or reduced business of restaurants, the temporary closure of Cayman's primary farmer's market earlier in the pandemic and the sudden stop of the tourism sector which impacted hotels and other food service establishments. Increased infrastructure and labour costs have also affected farmers as they seek to pivot in the face of extraordinary circumstances.

During the pandemic, many Caymanian farmers increased their delivery services to meet the needs of those who have been unwilling or unable to leave home, while others created value-added products, capitalizing on a heightened demand to eat fresh and local given elevated food security and health concerns in the local community.

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