Categorized | National News

Gov’t Signs $1.3M In Contracts—Groundbreaking For Agriculture Institute

The government yesterday signed eight contracts totaling approximately $1.3 million for the creation of the first ever Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Research Institute (BAMSRI) in North Andros; a school Prime Minister Perry Christie said will ensure food security and economic benefits.

In fact, Mr. Christie touted the institute as the cornerstone of his government’s plan to realise the nation’s agricultural promise.

He said with more than $1 billion spent on food import each year, the mandate for this institute is going to be a national one.

“This is relevant,” he said. “This is going to be engaged in ensuring the preservation of our country’s resources, being able to analyse, being able to practice best practices.

“We know we must bridge the gap. We know that we must realise the promise of our arable lands. We know that making strides towards food security in the 21st century is a necessity not a luxury and we believe that in order to not just compete but succeed, we have to invest in Bahamian expertise.”

After millions of dollars worth of renovation, what looks like just a shell will be transformed into a world class, state of the art research agricultural and marine institute that will catapult The Bahamas into even greater success.

The institute will comprise of 300 to 400 acres of land to cultivate a select number of crops and will also work with local farmers to grow others.

Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Executive Chairman Arnold Forbes said with the population ever increasing but food security far behind, the time is now for an institute such as this.

“We can no longer expect that our ability to pay will ensure our ability to eat,” the BAIC chairman added. “The responsibility of feeding ourselves rest squarely with us.

“What we are doing represents a paradigm shift in Bahamian thinking beginning with the very top of our government. We are not simply seeking to expand our food production capabilities. What we are in fact doing is revolutionising the government’s entire approach to farming in The Bahamas.”

In fact, he said The Bahamas is further away from its ability to feed itself than it was 50 years ago.

Government officials said this new institute is all part of the government’s agriculture plan to support infrastructure upgrades, create an import substitution policy and, among other things, build new agri-business programmes.

They have also stressed the importance of the educational component.

“The creation of this campus in North Andros will give the University of The Bahamas the ability to better serve the community of Andros and the surrounding island communities,” College of The Bahamas Council Chairman Alfred Sears said. “It will also provide learners from New Providence, Family Islands and out of the country to come to Andros for the best practices in agriculture, marine production, processing, marketing and research.”

It is expected that within the coming months, the government will sign an additional 12 contracts to complete the school.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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