Following the passage of Tropical Storm Grace, the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture (DOA) assessed the resulting damage to the local agricultural sector.
The DOA found extensive damage to agricultural crops, particularly to fruit trees, and is currently prioritizing its assistance to farmers by resetting as many toppled fruit trees as possible.
Over the past weekend, teams from the DOA provided assistance to seven tree crop farmers in the districts of Bodden Town and East End, moving on to another two farms on Monday, 22 August.
Given the limited window for successfully resetting fruit trees, the DOA is focusing its efforts initially on commercial famers.
To ensure that the DOA teams can reach as many farms as possible, assistance is currently being limited to resetting trees only to a maximum of eight hours spent on any one farm.
In cases where farmers have the resources, in terms of manpower and/or equipment to help themselves, the DOA is assisting through provision of advice and showing the farmers how to correctly reset the trees before moving on to assist other farmers.
Once the resetting exercise for farmers has been completed, or if the window for doing so has closed, the DOA teams will proceed to the second phase of revisiting the commercial farmers to commence pruning and rehabilitation of those trees that were not toppled.
The Department has been receiving requests from backyard gardeners for assistance with toppled and damaged trees and will assist though the provision of technical advice and guidance.
However, it is unlikely that the DOA will be able to provide direct manpower assistance in the short term as its focus must be on the rehabilitation of the commercial farming operations.