Categorized | National News

Food Ambassador: Diversify Economy

The Bahamas’ ambassador to the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) says for there to be any kind of economic progression in the country, there first needs to be more diversification.

On Monday while addressing the Bahamas Business Outlook, FAO Ambassador Godfrey Eneas said now more than ever the focus needs to be shifted from tourism and on to other industries like agriculture.

He said the local economy must tap into resources that are easily accessible to the nation, particularly if The Bahamas wants to keep up with the changing world.

“There’s a Chinese proverb that says when the wind changes direction, there are those who build walls and those who build windows,” he said.

“We’ve been building too many walls in our country. Our economy hasn’t changed in 60 years. We have a two-legged economy. Yet, we live in a global village and I dare say that the era of globalisation has not been good to The Bahamas. That is why we are experiencing the kinds of socio-economic problems. It’s because we haven’t built any windmills.”

Mr. Eneas said the country has made itself vulnerable by depending on other countries to feed its people.

“The last two decades have been brutal to the agricultural sector of The Bahamas,” he said.

“The decrease in contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) has stemmed from the poor performance of the sector where output has stagnated between $70 to $80 million per annum. Capital intensive agribusinesses have been driven out of the sector by policies which have been discouraging to products gaining access to our markets. The main reason for this state of affairs is direct result of what I call, ‘the duty reduction policy’ of the previous administration. ”

The FAO ambassador said Bahamians must view agriculture through a new prism.

He said it’s unfortunate that local farmers find it hard to get their products in local stores.

“Take the egg industry for example,” he said, “Eggs are under price control.”

“One major food importer told me that he can’t buy local eggs because he can’t make enough money off of them. As a result of that the egg industry is almost decimated. But six years ago, The Bahamas was self-sufficient in eggs.”

Mr. Eneas believes technology will change Bahamian agriculture as the country develops a market-driven agribusiness food production system.
He said food is growing in demand, and if The Bahamas were to tap into its potential, then it could be a leader in the agriculture industry.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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