BAIC Paves Way For South Andros Agriculture
A road being constructed by Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) into South Andros’ pine land could open that region to large scale agriculture, a town meeting there was told.
BAIC executive chairman Edison M. Key also disclosed plans to assist Bahamians obtaining land and becoming established there.
In pledging BAIC’s “full support,” he called on the Ministry of Education to place more emphasis on agriculture in the public schools.
South Androsians packed the Marion E. Forbes Community Centre on Thursday night (July 21) to be updated on BAIC’s initiatives to increase food production nationally.
Hundreds of Sweet Cayenne pineapple plants were given to the South Andros Farmers Association for distribution. Already farmers have taken advantage of access into the fertile pine land to start plantings of peas, beans, corn and pumpkins.
“I have a lot of confidence in the potential of Andros to go a long way in saving this nation from the ramification of soaring food prices, as has already been predicted by the Secretary General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN,” said Mr. Key.
He told of “many opportunities being made available” to South Androsians to earn an income at home.
He encouraged them to take advantage of the government’s grants to assist persons becoming established in business.
“If start-up money has been holding you back, here is an opportunity to move forward,” he said.
The three-mile road from Queen’s Highway in Duncombe’s Coppice to the pine land, he said, is not yet to his satisfaction.
But, the quality of the land is comparable to the fertile land found in North Andros where agriculture has been a mainstay.
It is the intention of BAIC to acquire several hundred acres of the pine land, subdivide it into manageable plots and, for a nominal fee, lease it to South Androsians and other Bahamians for the purpose of food production, he told the meeting.
Toward that end, Audley Greaves, Undersecretary, Ministry of Land and Local Government; Philip Weech, Director, The Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission; and Walter McKinney, Engineer, Ministry of Public Works and Transport joined Mr. Key.
Dr. Marikis Alvarez, Bahamas representative for the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation in Agriculture was also there along with BAIC’s executive team.
“As we get set up, BAIC will provide assistance with land clearing, field preparation, and the provision of stock,” said Mr. Key.
Already BAIC has started distribution in South Andros of Persian lime, banana and plantain trees. He promised them shipments of mangoes, avocados, and guavas.
“We must feed this nation,” he said. “I cannot sufficiently emphasise to you the fact that we import some $500 million worth of food each year to feed our resident and tourist populations.
“Knowing that much of that imported food can be produced here, imagine what it would do for South Andros if just a fraction of that was spent in support of South Andros’ food production,” he said. “Overnight South Andros would become a centre of economic activity.”
Mr. Key pointed to additional opportunities for South Andros artisans when the multi-million dollar craft centre opens downtown Nassau.
“It is our hope and we are fighting for it as a matter of principle, that only authentic Bahamian items be displayed there,” said Mr. Key.
“That being the case, I look forward with keen anticipation to seeing the South Andros brand proudly showcased.”
The South Andros Handicraft and Manufacturers Association is headed by Mrs. Emily Rahming.
He encouraged South Androsians to consider coconut processing.
“I fail to see why we have to import so much coconut products when we have a virtual plantation of coconut trees in South Andros,” he said.
“And processing coconut products has gone modern, there being machines for de-husking, de-shelling, grating, and milk and oil extracting.
“But, whatever it takes to get you on your feet, we will do the best we can to assist.”
By Gladstone Thurston
Bahamas Information Services