By Gladstone Thurston Bahamas Information Services BAHAMAS Agricultural and Industrial Corporation has pledged its continued assistance to farmers in North Andros. This follows election of a new slate of officers to lead the now Big Yard Farmers Company Limited, formerly the North Andros Farmers Association. Veteran farmer Floyd Newton has been elected president with Neville Clarke as his assistant. "We wanted to show support for the new administration and again pledge a commitment from BAIC to assist them in anyway we can to allow them to achieve whatever objective they plan for," said assistant general manager (agriculture) Arnold Dorsett. BAIC executives, led by general manager Benjamin Rahming, met with Mr Newton and his team last weekend. Assistant general manager (land) Judith Thompson was also present. BAIC is to allow the organisation the benefits of its Business Services and Accounts Departments. "We want to assist them in ensuring that their books are set up correctly and that they are functioning properly," said Mr Dorsett. "This is an area we have had some concern on." Mr Newton expressed optimism about the future of farming in North Andros. Other members of this executive team include Angela Newton (secretary), Glen Gaitor (treasurer) and Andrea Rolle (assistant treasurer). "We have a lot of plans but our main objective is to encourage young Bahamians to become established in farming," he said. "No country is truly independent except it is able to, not only protect itself, but more importantly feed itself. "It has been said that farming is hard labour, but with the new technology that BAIC is now introducing in North Andros, it is going to make farming easier and therefore more attractive." He was concerned that each farmer remains limited to $9,000 worth of business at the government's packing house. "That needs to be addressed because the overhead expenses alone for each farmer is $9,000," he said. "If The Bahamas is going to feed itself, surely Andros is going to be the catalyst to take the Bahamas to that level. Therefore the $9,000 ceiling should be addressed." In response to that concern, BAIC has been hosting conferences in North Andros between farmers and New Providence buyers, seeking additional avenues of trade for farmers. The Ministry of Tourism, the Bahamas Hotel Association, and the Bahamas Culinary Association were all a part of the last conference in December. "Marketing is our problem," said Mr Newton. "It is hard to farm and market at the same time. The buyers are trained in marketing. How can we talk to them? We need more commitment from them and the government."