Focus On Grand Bahama Agriculture Development
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The Ministry for Grand Bahama and the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation are tied at the hip joint as it relates agri-business and light manufacturing, says the Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville.
His comment came as he welcomed a team of BAIC officials to Grand Bahama on September 19. The group, headed by Executive Chairman Arnold Forbes began its visit to the island by paying a courtesy call on the Ministry for Grand Bahama.
Mr. Darville told the gathering that it is self evident that the way forward for Grand Bahama is in the area of entrepreneurial development and that he has told the Minister responsible for Agriculture that his Ministry would be tapping into his group of experts to ensure that agriculture as well as light manufacturing, low energy intensive manufacturing are developed in very short order in Grand Bahama.
Continuing, Minister Darville said that as part of the awareness for agriculture in Grand Bahama, his Ministry in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture is designing a Cadet Agricultural Program me that is geared toward students in grade 11 to 12 that will begin to encourage them into the field of agriculture and begin to focus more on light manufacturing.
“We intend to establish a course at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and this course will revolve around agriculture, crop science as well as husbandry and poultry development.
“This will lead the way for potential agro-businessmen to apply for lease land in East Grand Bahama. So the Ministry for Grand Bahama in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture is already in the process of developing the plan to begin to survey the 30,000 acres of farmland that exist in East Grand Bahama and create opportunities for residents of Grand Bahama,” he stated.
He informed that only on Wednesday his Ministry was fortunate to have met with the Ambassador for the People’s Republic of China and that one of their key discussions was agriculture and mariculture.
“There is great interest for the development of mariculture in Grand Bahama, as a result of the mangrove systems in our ecosystem they exist on the North shore, so we would be looking at that and we will be requiring technical expertise from abroad and within BAIC and the Ministry of Agriculture to develop that concept aggressively here on Grand Bahama,” Mr. Darville said.
He pointed out that a country like Vietnam has become one of the greatest producers of mariculture produced seafood in the world and that his Ministry would be looking into developing that aspect of fish farming here in The Bahamas.
“We believe Grand Bahama is one of the islands that are equipped to do so. Our agricultural land once thought to be of no value, studies are now showing that it is very, very effective in the production of many types of crop and Grand Bahama is known to have an excessive supply of ground water and we need to tap into it and begin to do it soon,” the Minister stated.
He said he agreed with the Executive Chairman for BAIC, Mr. Arnold Forbes when he said, “Food security is a major concern for the government and the residents of Grand Bahama because we can distinctively remember Hurricane Jeanne and Francis. After the destruction, we were pretty much on the tail end of not having anything here in Grand Bahama to eat.
“So, the first thing that the government has decided to do on our platform is to ensure that we develop agriculture and food security, and begin to develop products that we can distribute to our various hotels and create a new breed of agro-businessmen throughout The Bahamas,” Mr. Darville said.
Executive Chairman Forbes said they came to Grand Bahama to meet with the Minister for Grand Bahama and to see how BAIC could assist his Ministry in jump starting Grand Bahama as it pertains to agribusiness, light manufacturing and light industry.
“We are here to give him our support and show him our support and to inform him that BAIC is available to him to use our resources, our technical expertise to ensure that Grand Bahama maximises its potential.
“We know that Grand Bahama has great potential as pertains to agribusiness and light industry. As a matter of fact Grand Bahama at one time was the industry leader as far as industry is concerned throughout The Bahamas, and we want to get Grand Bahama to where it used to be and we know the potential that Grand Bahama does have,” Mr. Forbes stated.
He said that he brought a full team of experts to Grand Bahama so that they could access the situation as it stands now and to speak with the Minister for Grand Bahama to ensure that they can do whether he needs done to jumpstart agribusiness and light manufacturing and light industry in Grand Bahama.
Mr. Forbes said they plan to travel throughout Grand Bahama and visit a few of the farms that are in existence to see how they are operating and how BAIC could make them better, as well as help to create more opportunities as far as farming is concerned in Grand Bahama.
He noted that BAIC also have a Craft Centre in Grand Bahama “and we want to get that up and running, to ensure that that can also create jobs.”
He informed that The Bahamas presently imports over $250 million worth of handicrafts every year.
“Why aren’t we making some of those handicrafts in The Bahamas? Why are we not putting our people to work? Why are we allowing that hard currency to leave the country when we can do other things with that to enhance our economy and enhance our people?
“We have the potential to do it, and so we want to explore those three areas, handicrafts, light manufacturing and agriculture,” he stated.
By SIMON LEWIS
Bahamas Information Services
Caption: Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville is pictured seated along with BAIC Executive Chairman, Arnold Forbes (left) and Melvin Seymour, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Grand Bahama; along with several senior officers and consultants from BAIC. The group met with Mr. Darville in his office at the Harold DeGregory Complex on Thursday morning to discuss among other areas the way forward for agriculture and light manufacturing on Grand Bahama. (BIS Photo / SIMON LEWIS)agriculture, grand bahama