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Agriculture industry set for overhaul

The Ministry of Agriculture has drawn up a 20-year plan for the sector in a bid to reduce The Bahamas' reliance on imports and cut the country's $100-billion annual food bill. 

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TheBahamasInvestor.com
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Ministry of Agriculture has drawn up a 20-year plan for the sector in a bid to reduce The Bahamas’ reliance on imports and cut the country’s $100-billion annual food bill.

The Ministry wants to double the number of people employed in the sector and raise the current $75-$80-million output of the domestic agricultural industry to $250 million by 2015.


Speaking at the Bahamas Business Outlook held in Nassau this week, agricultural consultant Godfrey Eneas, who helped the Ministry develop the plan, said it would be presented to parliament soon before being made available to the public.

The 20-year plan will expand the role of the Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corp (BAIC), invest in infrastructure such as packing houses and abbatoirs, and encourage the use of cutting-edge farming technology–particularly in terms of urban agriculture and greenhouse cultivation.

Eneas, who is The Bahamas’ ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, said it was also important for The Bahamas to participate in international trade bodies, such as the FAO and World Trade Organization (WTO), as these entities set the global agricultural agenda.

In addition, Eneas said farming suffered from an “image problem” and needed to attract younger people into the industry. In 1978 there were around 4,200 farmers in The Bahamas, but by 2012 this figure had dropped to around 1,200, he said.

To encourage employment in the sector and develop skills, the government launched The Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Research Institute in North Andros late last year. The institute’s cirriculum includes crop and livestock production, farm management, environmental conservation and marine resources.

cmorris@dupuch.com

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