Agriculture Sector Making Progress
FREEPORT, G.B. – Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Hon. Lawrence Cartwright, said the agriculture and marine resources sectors are poised to make even greater impact on the economy of The Bahamas.
Mr. Cartwright was speaking at the March 23 opening of the Grand Bahama Agribusiness Expo. The two-day event was held at the Goombay Park under the theme: Progressing Toward Food Security.
The Minister pointed out that the experience of food shortages throughout the world just three years ago has made an indelible impact on the way in which food production is viewed.
“It increased our appreciation of the effects of the lack of food and the nutrients that it provides to the human body,” he stated.
Focusing on the growth of the agriculture and marine sectors, Mr. Cartwright added that it is known worldwide that diversification of any economy is paramount to the success and progress of its people.
“I can say that we in the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources have consistently done our part in tapping into the resources that we have available to us to strategically ensure that they are efficiently organised and utilised for greatest returns. Our initiatives, programmes and undertakings have all been geared toward this interest,” he stated.
Mr. Cartwright noted that in Grand Bahama much progress has been made to realise the national mandate to promote, encourage and stimulate the agricultural, marine resources and agri-business sectors toward enhancing food supply and security within The Bahamas.
He added that it is still envisaged that Freeport’s Produce Exchange will be a place where quality, affordable produce is marketed.
“We at the Ministry of Agriculture recognises the importance of it, not only as an accessible means for the people of Grand Bahama to acquire healthy, nutritious produce but also a viable means for farmers to earn an income and where general extension services are afforded to producers and buyers; all of which play a role in the promotion of the sector.
“With that in mind, we have repaired the Produce Exchange. I am also please to be able to say that our Stores on Credit Programme to farmers continue with much success. Over the years it has afforded registered farmers with the ability to access goods on credit at the Fish and Farm store in New Providence,” he stated.
The Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister also informed Grand Bahamians that his Ministry has been conveyed 10,521 acres of land in Grand Bahama for agricultural purposes, much of which remains available for lease.
“So you who are desirous of acquiring this invaluable resource to produce food, all that is required is that you take the necessary action to make it a reality,” he told residents.
The Long Island native also pointed out that the acquisition of land would be fruitless if one lacks the necessary skills to plant and harvest crops.
“Our Backyard Farming and Community Farming Programmes address this on a fundamental level. Those who have participated in our programme have been educated with hands-on training in the basics of planting and reaping crops.
“Households have reported that some produce have supplemented some grocery items and in some instances, incomes,” he said.
The Minister was also keen on pointing out that Grand Bahama has an abundance of water for agriculture, and that it is also surrounded by sea, which is an asset to any nation touristically and a prized possession which provides sustainable food.
Adding that the Stone Crab, Spiny Lobster and Grouper all call our water home, he said that to ensure their sustained supply, his Ministry has established closed seasons for their harvesting.
Likewise, he informed that marine protected areas have also been established in Abaco, Berry Islands, Bimini and Exuma for the further preservation of the marine resources.
The Minister also stated that to curtail the population of the Lion fish in Bahamian waters several efforts continue which include promoting the cooking and eating of this alien invasive species. The Lion fish, he added, is sold by wholesale seafood processors who have happily reported increased demands.
The Grand Bahama’s Agribusiness Expo was the sixth of the 12 Family Island Expos to be held this year. New Providence, Eleuthera, North Andros, Long Island and San Salvador have already hosted theirs.
Next up is Bimini, which is scheduled for March 30th – 31st followed by South Andros, Mangrove Cay, Exuma, Inagua and Abaco all during the month of April.
By SIMON LEWIS
Bahamas Information Services