Sweeting seeks to push farming innovation initiatives

The Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs will work diligently to bring innovation and technology to The Bahamas and pursue international connections to cement food security in the country. Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Clay Sweeting said that many countries in the world are using technology to their benefit.

“We can use vertical farming, aquaponics but we can also build relationships between farmers and distributors. There is a client here that has created an app, which helps to facilitate distributors and suppliers and actual farmers to integrate their network, which is an area that we are having a challenge within The Bahamas. We are so excited to know that there is actually an app to facilitate this because we can now bring this innovation to The Bahamas,” Minister Sweeting said.

“There is a lot of innovation that can work within the sector. We are going to bring back some samples of new fertilizers that can be distributed over one hectare of farmland with minimal amount of space in regards to shipping and logistics challenges.”

Recently, Minister Sweeting led a delegation of representatives that included his ministry, the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC), the Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA) and the departments of agriculture and marine resources to Dubai for Agriculture Week at World Expo 2020.

During the week, the minister participated in the inaugural Food for Future Summit and Expo as a guest speaker and a panelist on the World Leaders Symposium.

Additionally, the minister participated in the first ministerial meeting for Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate and attended numerous other meetings with international leaders.

Sweeting said he is pleased with the international connections that were made.

“Israel is looking to do aquaculture technology whereby you can farm in the actual ocean, something that is innovative and cost effective. The Bahamas is the perfect place for creating this type of opportunity,” he said.

“When we met with Saudi Arabia, they are looking at technology and innovation and how they can assist us in that sector as well. The US, our neighbor, has been assisting us with the sector and will hopefully enhance their contribution to innovation and technology in The Bahamas. We will continue to meet with other countries. I was able to meet with Minister for Climate Change and Environment Mariam Alheri, we were able to chat a bit and hopefully we will be able to work with them as well to bring innovation and technology to our country, which will positively impact our agricultural sector.”

Sweeting said that many countries are practicing vertical farming, which he would like to see more of in The Bahamas.

“I think new technology in terms of vertical farming, aquaponics and all those other technologies that can help grow our agriculture definitely will be pushed by me. It falls in line with my vision to what farming can be in The Bahamas – how we can make it inclusive, how we can make it attractive to commercially farm in our country and encouraging them to do backyard farming,” he said.

“But what is important for us is that we actually find ways to feed ourselves that we actually grow where we live and eat what we grow and that’s one of our mantras. We must be serious about it. I think that these expos facilitate easy discussions and present the opportunity to meet with countries and agencies who can assist our country. But once we leave these facilities, we must enact change and we bring the knowledge that we’ve gained here to facilitate our farmers at home so that they realize that our time here was not wasted and that we will bring innovative change, policy initiatives to the sector in our country.”

Sweeting said overall, Agriculture Week in Dubai was successful for The Bahamas.

“As a small developing country, sometimes The Bahamas isn’t taken seriously enough. But to come here and be invited to be on the global stage and to be invited out of 10 countries to speak at the symposium out of all the global leaders, I think that speaks to us as a country, as a nation and as a people of how other people view us. They see us as a country that can make a real impact, be innovative and one that can bring real change and I am excited to be a part of that,” Sweeting said.

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