Foulkes: BAIC has helped drive down produce pricesCorporation has been successful in eliminating wastage at produce exchange
The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) has helped to drive down the prices of certain fruits and vegetables via its farmers market programs and mission to purchase as much as it can from local farmers, its executive chairman, Michael A. Foulkes, said Friday.
Foulkes added that BAIC has been successful in eliminating wastage at the produce exchange and is exploring the exportation of processed goods such as tamarind sauce and pepper sauce.
Foulkes explained that the price of tomatoes has been driven down from $2.50 to about $1.50 in the stores.
“We are seeing that happen and we are constantly in the market to find out what prices are being offered, because we’re really making an effort to cause prices to come down,” said Foulkes.
He said BAIC once only bought up to $9,000 of produce from a farmer, but now its policy has changed such that there is now produce being purchased above that limit. Given that the corporation has stamped out waste at the packing houses, it can sell much more of the produce it buys.
Foulkes added that some of the produce that may not sell goes into processed food products, and this eliminates wastage.
“We’ve been doing a good job at the farmers market just moving everything, and nothing wastes anymore at the produce exchange,” he said.
“Anything that we cannot sell may be something we can use in processing. The third stage of it is we are moving into organic fertilizers.”
He said much of the produce is sourced from farmers on Andros, Eleuthera, Abaco and Cat Island.
In terms of exportation, Foulkes said the government has co-partnered with the Caribbean Export Development Agency to get help navigating the export market. This relationship will assist small processors in getting their products outside of The Bahamas.
“We intend to solve that issue and find out why we are not doing it, and get it done,” he said.
Foulkes said BAIC is exploring the exportation of onions to a neighboring country.