SBDC, Agriculture announce grant for climate-smart tech in farmimg

The Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) and Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs have initiated a grant that will give a boost to farmers who want to implement climate-smart technology into their businesses.

Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Clay Sweeting, who announced the new incentive for farmers yesterday during a press conference at his ministry’s offices, said the new grant was borne out of the Sustainable Food Growth Grant, when it was realized that those growers looking for funds to implement climate-smart technology should be part of a separate grant program. Sweeting’s ministry and the SBDC therefore launched the Climate-Smart Technology Encouragement Grant.

“It should be noted that these applicants through the partnership with SBDC Access Accelerator, will be receiving funding from a separate grant program that we hope to become an annual program to encourage innovation and technology in farming,” said Sweeting.

“We must change how we plan, invest and farm. Agriculture has always been a science. We have dismissed the scientific components of growing our own foods, grafting, budding, preserving, and processing.

“If we are to become serious about food security, we must revisit older techniques, merge them with new innovations and begin to rebuild this sector of our economy. We feel strongly that the ideas we need to strengthen this sector are among us.

“We hope that this funding initiative will encourage our young scientists, IT techs, creatives and those with a love for farming to partner with us and get growing.”

Manager of Operations at Abaco Big Bird Poultry Farm Lance Pinder, Abaco Big Bird Poultry Farm is receiving a grant, which it will use to implement solar energy production into its operation, reducing its costs by 20 percent.

“One of the biggest expenses for doing poultry production is not really the growing of the birds, but the processing of the birds,” said Lance Pinder, manager of operations at Abaco Big Bird Poultry Farm.

“The processing facilities are very energy intensive, so we intend to use this funding to help with solar to cut down our energy costs, which would reduce prices.

“Also, for our company at this time, we’re still rebuilding from the storm and the impacts of COVID. So it’s going to free up cash flow. That will help us put that back into growing and re-expanding the company going forward.”

Well Mudda Fungus principal, Shomekhan Cargill, who also received a grant for her company, said it will also be used to implement solar energy production in the company’s containerized grow houses, which will lower costs and keep retail prices at an acceptable level.

Cargill said inflation has been a challenge for his young company atop the energy costs.

“Through this round of funding, which is very timely, we intend to solarize our production, reduce our carbon footprint, as well as reduce our cost of production to bring down our price, to make these healthy products more available to the general population,” he said.

“Our main buyers are individual consumers, but also we have strong support from hotels like Baha Mar, and high-end restaurants. They really enjoy the high-quality product and they appreciate the freshness.

“Eventually we hope to scale into not just those niche products which are more conducive to small-scale businesses, but also into the more wholesale varieties of mushrooms like the button mushroom as well.”

VNET AGRI-tech was also the recipient of a grant. One of its executives, Johnelle Lewis, said her company produces a comprehensive solution for growers, providing data for farmers about salt saturation, nutrition and atmospheric data in order to help them prevent resource wastage.

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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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