Bright Outlook For Andros
Andros is poised to become “the saviour of this nation,” the second Andros Business Outlook was told.
And “all must be done” to ensure that it plays its rightful role as an engine for social and economic development, said Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) executive chairman Edison M. Key.
“We have to do what is necessary to bring Bahamians to the realisation that for the most part Nassau has outgrown itself and is unable to take this nation to the next level if only for the reason that it has run out of space,” said Mr. Key. “All Andros has is space.”
To give New Providence a badly needed breather, he suggested that the government look at establishing a major subdivision in North Andros built around the agriculture and craft industries.
“The land is here,” he asserted. “Let the government put in the roads, and electricity and water lines and sell lots to Bahamians at the cost of putting in the infrastructure.
“It has been done before with great success. It will encourage Androsians and others who want to live and work here, to in fact do so. There are a lot of people in New Providence who would love to come back home.”
Mr. Key was the keynote speaker at the second Andros Business Outlook, May 11, in Nicholl’s Town, North Andros. The Counsellors Limited hosted the event.
Also discussed at the all-day forum were tourism, national insurance, petroleum exploration in the Bahamas, agri-business, the forestry industry, the role of cooperatives, and investment opportunities.
“The future of Andros is as bright as the noonday sun,” said Mr. Key. “The seeds we have sown in Andros over the nearly four years I have been the executive chairman at BAIC have all borne forth an abundance harvest.
“And that is just an indication of the magnitude of Andros’s potential as the saviour of this nation.”
He told of efforts to “inculcate an entrepreneurial spirit in Bahamians in an effort to break the ever-present dependency syndrome.
“Guided therefore by our mandate, we at BAIC have been on a mission to empower Bahamians to take advantage of the many opportunities in The Bahamas to earn a decent living.”
For example, BAIC, he said, sought to encourage Bahamians to tap into the $500 million used to import food products by making hundreds of acres of arable land available to them on Andros, Abaco and Eleuthera.
The response, he said, has been “encouraging.”
“Utilising modern techniques of land preparation and fertigation, farmers, especially in Andros, have increased production across the board,” he said.
“Supermarket operators tell us that the quality of fruits and vegetables from Andros is at least as good as any of the imports.”
Through its ‘Buy Fresh; Buy Bahamian’ initiative, he said, BAIC has been able to bring producers, buyers and the general public together “in what is developing into a very fruitful relationship.”
“If we were to provide for ourselves just half of our food imports, we would at the same time put a huge dent in unemployment,” said Mr. Key. “Andros can do it!”
Another area where BAIC is opening doors of opportunity is through its Handicraft Development and Marketing Department.
“Armed with our best handicraft trainers, we have been on another mission instructing Bahamians in the fine art of souvenir production, utilising basically the ingredients found in the local environment,” he said.
“It has been a smashing success. Some 2,000 artisans have been trained, handicraft associations formed, and local and national festivals and exhibitions held.
“Opportunities for small and medium-size enterprises abound in the craft and souvenir industry especially now that the multi-million dollar craft centre downtown Nassau is nearing completion.”
Through its Business Services Department, BAIC offers seminars and workshops on a range of proven successful business strategies, best practices, and real life business experience, he said.
Held in conjunction with the College of The Bahamas, the sessions are open to the public and are free of charge.
Topics discussed included Business Planning and Forecasting; Developing and Executing a Business Model; Business Finance and Venture Capital; Customer Service; and, Security.
“Our confidence in Andros is very high,” said Mr. Key. “Its potential is great.”
By Gladstone Thurston
Bahamas Information Services