Central Andros High School’s agriculture programme has won the support of Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation in Agriculture (IICA).
“I was very impressed,” said BAIC executive chairman Edison M Key. “We can do a lot to support that programme and we have indicated that to them.
“If we can see more of these programmes throughout The Bahamas we would be well on the way to producing young men and women who might be the future food producers for The Bahamas.”
Mr. Key and a BAIC team along with IICA’s Bahamas representative Dr. Marikis Alvarez visited the school during a tour of North Andros farms last weekend.
They were welcomed at Central Andros High by headmaster Andrae Nairn and agriculture science teacher Shivananda Ackloo.
The students there raise goats and chickens, operate a small greenhouse, and till the land utilising implements and material gathered from the community.
“We were very impressed with the school’s output, where they have a trained agriculture teacher.” said IICA’s Dr Alvarez.
IICA is the specialised agency of the Inter-American System for the promotion of agriculture and rural well-being.
Its efforts are focused on making agriculture competitive and sustainable in the Americas.
Through the Ministry of Education, IICA has been assisting schools that have agriculture programmes.
“We have provided seed material and we have helped them with capacity building, to do rapid multiplication in order to produce good quality material,” said Dr Alvarez.
He commended agriculture teacher Mr Ackloo, of Guyana, and his team.
“We see that he is stimulating innovativeness among the students,” said Dr Alvarez. “He is making use of some resources that he can put a hand on and is indeed getting some output.”
Mr Ackloo noted that some students are extending their school activities to home – they want to take animals home to raise them, and they want seedling to start their own gardens.
“That is the kind of impact we are looking out for because that is an indication that the students are absorbing the training,” said Dr Alvarez.
“Being in a school system though, we would like to see continuity from primary through tertiary levels. How do we sustain the interest of these young people in agriculture?
“Agriculture has 240 professions. There are avenues for the different interests they are expressing. We would really like to see them accommodated,” said Dr Alvarez.
The North Andros Agri-indusrial Park’s model greenhouse continues to point to the future of agriculture in The Bahamas.
Sweet peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, normally winter crops in The Bahamas, continue to be produced there.
And, another greenhouse is being constructed to accommodate the propagation of fruit trees for distribution throughout the islands, said BAIC executive chairman Mr. Key.
The North Andros packing-house is running over with onions, water melons, pumpkins, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes and late season tomatoes.
He challenged the private sector to assist with proper packing-house facilities which will co-incide with BAIC’s objective to increase food production.
“The farmers are doing extremely well,” said Mr. Key. “The support we have given them is really paying off high dividends.
“But they need proper packing-house facilities where their produce can be properly graded, packed, and held for months if necessary rather than being kept outside in the open.
“We really need to be thinking in that direction because although we are having more people growing the facilities are not adequate to accommodate them.
“For example, of the 30,000 sacks of onions they may produce this season some 25 per cent will be dumped. As a result the farmers’ labour will be in vain.
“It is wonderful to see so much being produced but on the other hand it is disheartening to see so much waste.
“While I am pleased with the production I am disappointed that we are not making more progress with putting the facilities in place to support the farmers,” said Mr. Key.
By Gladstone Thurston
Bahamas Information Services