The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources is seeking buy-in from local farmers and fishers to establish contributory insurance for the sector, its minister said yesterday.
Michael Pintard said his ministry is still in discussions with regional and international organizations to develop an insurance plan for the sector based on its vulnerability to increasing climate disasters.
“In the policy space one of the things that we believe is critical is making sure we have insurance in place. We are in the midst of discussions with farmers and fishers about a contributory insurance,” he said during a virtual panel discussion held by World Central Kitchen on the topic “Creating Resilient Food Systems in the Caribbean”.
“We need assistance from the farmers and fishers themselves and they must play a pivotal role in guaranteeing their ability to rebuild after a climatic event and that requires contributory insurance. There are a number of regional and international organizations that we are presently in discussions with in this regard.”
The webinar brought together key leaders in Puerto Rico, The Bahamas and the US Virgin Islands to discuss preparedness ahead of this year’s hurricane season.
The damage caused to the sector following Hurricane Dorian in 2019 was estimated at approximately $80 million, which prompted Pintard months after the devastating storm to explore the execution of industry insurance, facilitated by the government in conjunction with international partners.
Pintard said in executing an insurance plan for the agriculture and fisheries sector, the ministry is focused on educating stakeholders on the technologies that attract insurance.
“Traditional open field agriculture has a difficulty in attracting insurance, however greenhouse technology can attract insurance. So the choice of technology or methodology that we are going to use to farm and to fish is important,” he said.
“Boats and fishing vessels attract insurance and so we must now look at the kind of technology we are going to employ in executing our craft, because the very technology could determine whether you have coverage and in the event of a climatic event you are able to get up and running very quickly.”
Pintard said additionally a bigger investment from the private sector would shore up the industry to ensure its resilience and sustainability.
“It’s a multibillion-dollar sector that is in the interest of the private sector to invest in, so it is a key stakeholder making application to start agricultural initiatives in The Bahamas,” he said.
World Central Kitchen was founded by Chef José Andrés and has served more than 50 million fresh meals to people impacted by natural disasters and other crises around the world in countries including The Bahamas, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mozambique, Venezuela and the United States.
The nonprofit hosted the panel discussion to also highlight how regional governments and organizations can work together to respond to a crisis and facilitate the recovery process.
“For the last four years, we have been supporting food producers across the region and have connected with each of the panelists in unique ways. In our conversations, we learned there is a great opportunity to learn and cooperate among the Caribbean islands,” the organization noted in a press release.
“Community is at the heart of everything we do and we wanted to convene some of our incredible partners to exchange ideas and create a space for collaboration.”