China, Bahamas sign MOU on agriculture

The Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Hunan Province, China, that will support the construction of greenhouses at the Gladstone Road Agricultural Centre (GRAC) and technical support, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Clay Sweeting said Friday, adding that a two-year agreement will bring two Chinese experts to the GRAC to support the work.

Sweeting said China and The Bahamas are doing complimentary work when it comes to agriculture, and insisted some of that work is transferable in the context of his government’s work to increase food security.

He said the partnership is designed to enhance and accelerate this country’s efforts to increase food production capacity. 

“China has been working assiduously to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from crop and livestock farming, increase soil carbon sinks, improve biodiversity protection, facilitate the restoration of agricultural ecosystems, and support local governments to integrate environmental and decarbonization goals in rural revitalization plans and investment projects,” said Sweeting.

“Work is also being done in multiple fields, to provide farmers and members of cooperatives with training and agricultural extension services, and encourage farmers and food processors to adopt climate-intelligent agricultural technologies and good agricultural practices.

He added: “China’s efforts mirror our own as we are also encouraging and promoting climate smart farming and agri-technological advances in several Family Islands, with the establishment of a digital village in Eleuthera, awarding several grants through the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre for the climate smart technology grant and the building of the cultivation center in New Providence that will soon be duplicated in other islands – the first being Eleuthera.

“We are also enhancing our own institution – the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) – with programs such as the newly-launched egg academy, which will tie in with the Golden Yolk program in partnership with the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation.”

He explained that Hunan Province is home to the Hunan Agricultural University (Hunau), which he said has 27,570 full-time undergraduate students and 5,044 graduate students.

“We understand that Hunau has won 27 national scientific and technological achievements awards, with more than 300 new varieties approved and 1,400 patents granted, which include varieties of rapeseed, rice, corn, potatoes, peanuts, teas, grapes, cotton, citrus, pig, tobacco, vegetables and other practical products, which have been widely promoted throughout china,” Sweeting said.

Sweeting explained that this partnership with Chinese experts will cause for the creation of a technical manual for vegetable planting in The Bahamas.

He said six vegetable varieties will be selected and three steel frame vegetable greenhouses built.

Sweeting added that two training events on vegetable planting for household and commercial farming will also be held.

“These experts will assist farmers interested in greenhouse farming,” he said.

“Additionally, we will hire Bahamians to assist with the construction of the greenhouses, who will also be trained in greenhouse construction and operations.

“It is imperative that any partnership that we enter into that Bahamians are the main focus and are able to capitalize on the opportunities afforded to them.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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