Pintard: Moving away from antiquated, inefficient farming methods necessary
It is essential the government privatize or otherwise enter into a public-private arrangement in order to fix the government packing house system and increase production and overall profitability in the farming industry, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said.
The government has increased its allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources to $24.9 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.
Pintard said much of that increase would be spent on moving away from the antiquated production and distribution system for farming in The Bahamas.
“There is a need for us to dramatically increase production in The Bahamas, and we do not believe by any of the studies that we’ve seen that this is where the constraint is in The Bahamas. Bahamian farmers and producers have a capacity for growth. But the question is can they produce consistently with the quality at a price point that makes sense for the consumers, as well as if it makes sense for the continuation of their operation. So the ministry has built onto the building blocks made by my predecessors to construct a plan of action and we are confident that three years from now…that we will lay a solid foundation repairing those planks that we’ve allowed to get loose over time,” he said.
“It is important for us to fix the production cycle by increasing the subsidy package that will benefit our farmers. Two, it is absolutely necessary to address the distribution of those goods, so that they are able to move in a timely fashion from the various centers of production to the markets that they need to go to and not necessarily through an antiquated, outdated government packing house system which we believe has to be privatized or enter a public partnership arrangement.”
Pintard said in today’s very fragile international ecosystem and with The Bahamas presently importing somewhere between $750 million and $1 billion in produce and livestock products each year, there needs to be a greater discussion around how to catapult the agriculture and marine industry to one of the leading economic pillars of the country.
“While tourism is doing exceptionally well – numbers are up some 19 percent this year – financial services is facing an onslaught. As has been documented and despite our best efforts, there is a moving goal post that has been erected by our brothers and sisters primarily in Europe,” he said.
“So, The Bahamas has to have a real talk, a real national conversation with all sides of the political divide as to what is our level of our commitment to the diversification of the economy in general and, in this case, what is our commitment to agriculture and marine resources that has the potential to grow its contribution to the GDP of The Bahamas.”
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