November 20, 2019

Cayman Islands Premier’s Heroes Day Message

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Premier announces new hero with Governor PRINTHeroes Day message
By Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, , JP, MLA
Monday, 25 January, 2016
Good morning,
Thank you for joining me as we commemorate National Heroes Day 2016 and honour the men and women who have made and continue to make contributions to the continuing development of local farming.
Today we will be honouring farmers in the categories of early pioneer, pioneer, emerging pioneer, memorial scroll and long service awards.
We chose agriculture as this year’s theme because of our country’s long-time focus on the local production of fruits, vegetables and animals as well as the public’s increasing appreciation of organic produce.
It is because of that growing appreciation and this Government’s commitment to agriculture that in 2014 Government partnered with the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute with an eye to growing our agriculture sector by assisting our farmers to produce better quality products for our ever-growing market.
We did so because this Government recognised that the Department of Agriculture needed additional support to further develop the agriculture sector in the Cayman Islands.
The agriculture sector is vital to our country, contributing significantly to food and nutrition security, culinary tourism and cultural preservation.
As such we have extended Saturday’s Market on the Grounds with the opening of the daily Market at the Cricket Grounds, which is a private-sector led initiative in which shoppers can avail themselves of fresh produce, healthy snacks, art and crafts. So far, from what I’ve seen, it has been a resounding success. Government and the farming community thank Dart for doing their part to host Market at Camana Bay each Wednesday.
And because of the high quality of produce, meat and other agriculture products, more and more supermarkets are stocking their shelves with local foodstuffs and restaurants are serving local fare.
It is proof positive that agriculture is a thriving business and a vital industry providing not only fresh foodstuffs for our consumption, but jobs for our people.
Today our farms are producing more than ever, which in turn contributes to healthier lifestyles.
And while agriculture is an important industry, I believe there are more and more backyard gardeners growing their own fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. Not only is it a relaxing hobby, many gardeners will tell you it is therapeutic. I operate my own farm so I know how enjoyable it is to work the soil.
Today we are honouring the men and women who come from a long tradition of working the land, raising livestock and poultry. The people we honour today went beyond subsistence farming. They went over and beyond to make a difference in the lives of those in their communities.
In the early part of last century, in the 1911 census specifically, they were called provision cultivators who grew enough for their families and surplus for sharing, barter or trade.
Back then crops consisted mainly of cassava, potatoes, corn, beans, pumpkin, yams, cocoa and eddoes. These were added to breadfruit, bananas, plantains, coconuts, sugarcane and fruit growing from trees in the household yard.
Many Caymanians backed their loads in thatch baskets supported by a broad strap around their foreheads. Today baskets are still used by some gardeners to bring in the provisions from their grounds. I too use a traditional basket to bring in produce from my farm in East End.
Many farmers still grow the traditional crops I mentioned earlier, but with the help of the Department of Agriculture, the Agriculture Society and CARDI, the variety of crops has expanded to include tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, bok choy, pears, turnips and more.
And today those who practice the calling of agriculture have modern machinery to help them cultivate the soil and prepare livestock. Gone are the days when farmers had to get their provisions out of the bush on donkeys or horses and in some cases pack them in canoes to take them home for consumption, sharing or bartering.
Yes, we have come a long way not only in the way we grow our foodstuffs, but in the quality, quantity and variety. But at the end of the day all of us who toil the soil and raise livestock and poultry are carrying on the time honoured traditions of our forefathers and mothers.
I appreciate the people who took time out to nominate those they thought deserving of this national award. In all there were 350 nominations and today we honour 320 recipients.
Once we have awarded everyone, I invite you to join us as we continue to celebrate our agriculture pioneers with refreshments including fresh produce and beverages.
And remember that as we celebrate all things agriculture today that the annual is just right around the corner on , 10 February. I hope you will join us at the Stacey Watler Pavilion Agriculture Pavilion in Lower Valley. The show on Cayman Brac will be 27 February and 19th March on Little Cayman. These shows will give us additional chances to fellowship and thank the farmers who work tirelessly day in and day out to help feed our country.
Thank you and enjoy the day.

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