Thursday, Jul 2, 2020
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Finding our way

Dear Editor,

For many years, many of us have been advocating that we need to diversify our economy and not have all our eggs in one basket. We have lost our way and now the chickens have come home to roost.

Tourism and banking have been our primary focuses for the entirety of our nation’s history. We have become overdependent on the Yankee dollar and have totally ignored the most important thing in our lives: feeding ourselves.

Generations of politicians have failed us.

All we’ve gotten is lip service when it came to farming and animal husbandry.

The governments gave every reason why we couldn’t do it.

They ensured us that it wasn’t feasible and that we couldn’t compete with the imported product.

In an earlier column, I mentioned that smaller, less developed Caribbean countries have flour mills and the waste from the flour is used to feed the animals.

Yet, in The Bahamas, we beat our chests and brag about having seven million tourists while remaining reliant on other nations to feed us. We must do better!

Unfortunately, the local farmer often ekes out a living and is paid a mere pittance for his crops.

Farmers and manufacturers have gotten no respect and it’s why so many have gone out of business.

We once had a major farm on Eleuthera that produced eggs and chickens. Now it’s a ghost town.

We once had several chicken farms in New Providence and now we have one or two producing eggs.

I understand they are at full capacity and are selling all the eggs they can produce.

However, when one considers the amount of chicken Bahamians eat, we don’t produce enough poultry to feed our citizens, let alone our seven million visitors.

The same can be said for hog farming. For all the pork we consume annually, it is strange that we haven’t found a way to establish consistent, sustainable pork production.

Andros has an abundance of water and land. In fact, Andros was once touted as the solution to our food production problems.

Despite these bold proclamations, this hasn’t come to fruition and the government’s forays into agriculture struggle to make a difference. We need to get back to basics.

COVID-19 has shown us just how vulnerable we are. All we need to be pushed over the edge is for United States President Donald Trump to stop our shipment of food, just like he did with the medical supplies that were turned back recently.

I encourage all of you to start your backyard farming now, because we don’t know when this coronavirus disaster will end.

I implore the government to do whatever is necessary to put us in a better position to feed ourselves.

There is no better time than right now.

Bahamian government, please provide the farmers with the tools they need. Give them incentives so they can compete. Open the floodgates so we can have homegrown chicken, homegrown pork, homegrown mutton and all the vegetables we need.

We have acres and acres of Crown land begging to be farmed.

Let’s get it into the hands of young Bahamians who can till the soil and let them feed us.

It’s never too late to do the right thing

William Wong

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