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'Buy Bahamas' Plan To Cut Food Imports

By CELESTE NIXON

Tribune Staff Reporter

cnixon@tribunemedia.net

BUY Bahamas will be the mantra of a minister who says he wants to cut the amount of food being imported.

Alfred Gray, newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government, said he will be seeking to reduce how much food is being imported by up to 30 per cent in his first term in office.

Mr Gray told The Tribune before his first Cabinet meeting yesterday that with agricultural industries basically nonexistent in the Bahamas, food security was a top priority for his ministry.

He said: "As you know the Bahamas imports more than 90 per cent of what we eat. To the extent that we are able I am hoping we can reduce that to 60 to 70 per cent."

Farms in the Family Islands are being hit because most of the food consumed, including chicken, is imported, said Mr Gray.

"We have a chicken farm in Abaco that is dying because of the importation of chicken," he said. "To the extent to which I am allowed to either eliminate the importation or perhaps drastically reduce it, I am prepared to do that in the shortest amount of time."

To encourage large scale farming, Mr Gray said he would be looking into providing financial grants to farmers.

He said the ministry would also be exploring the possibility of fish farming in the Bahamas.

"There is some interest which has already been expressed from foreign and local sources," said Mr Gray. "If we could grow, say Talapia, we may be able to grow sufficient amounts locally that we won't have to import it."

As Minister of Local Government in charge of Family Island affairs, Mr Gray plans to meet with island administrators this week to 'chart the way forward for the development of the out islands.'

He also intends to bring local government to New Providence.

"When I was here before I started the process," Mr Gray said, "I am not sure what has happened since then to now, but I intend to resurrect that process and start the general trek towards the implementation of local government in New Providence. We intend to ensure that the policies outlined in our party's charter are carried out."

Comments

B_I_D___ 2 years, 6 months ago

...Better keep all that news about Gold in Haiti on the downlow...gonna need all those Haitians to till the farms, as S.L.O.P. preached way back when, ain't no self respecting black Bahamian need to do the slave work of maning the fields of a farm.
Manual farm labour...yeah right...how many generations down the road before people reverse that mind set?

B.I.D...

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Livestofish 2 years, 6 months ago

I link the idea Mr. Grey..perhaps you the only PLP MP i can stomach.. However, you guys love to make promises , I'll wait to see if this will be fruitated..

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

we graduate 5000 kids a year , i,ll bet you 10 to 1 ,...100 of our little darlings won,t work on a farm ..and if you get a hundred 90 will quit the first week ...Grey do you realize you can grow a tomatoe in the D/R ship it to florida and import it here cheaper than you can grow one here ..we don,t have the volcanic soil ,,sure theres hydro farming but the start up cost are enormous ..and back to may original statement ,who is going to work these farms ,,hey but it sounds good Bahamian First .....calling bahamasair i need free tickets for me and my star wanna be daughter to Atlanta ,no i don,t think my husband will be joining me ,hes busy looking for 43,000 jobs

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

local goverment in nassau ,geez louise how many people can they put on the gov..payroll

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B_I_D___ 2 years, 6 months ago

...they need to get all the money the can and quick...they'll only be in for 5 years!! Chance at lining their pockets is disappearing every single day!!

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notsogullible 2 years, 6 months ago

SO WELL SAID!! ... reading my mind

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

oh baby theres lots of pretty girls in abaco at the rally you better watch yourself ,,,remember that one after people called PGC soft ,hilarious ..i had a PLP friend come to work the next morning saying he wants to move to abaco because of all the pretty girls ...my goodness its almost too easy here to trick the masses ,at least 75000 of them ,,if it wasn,t so serious it would be funny,,not wait its a real laugh riot ,,,i,m going get me some hair dye go around shouting foriegners are the devil ,and we are the smartest ,best looking people in the whole wide world ,and i stand a good chance of winning a seat in the next election ..maybe some day PM who knows ,,now i just need a pretty wife that resides abroad to tell everyone what a manly man i am

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

It could be done, if Bahamians want lower prices on food it has to be done. With low cost interest loans back by the government that can go towards purchasing equipment or a smart business man could buy equipment and rent them out, a lot of farmers in the U.S use rental equipments.

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notsogullible 2 years, 6 months ago

How much do you want government to do. We are such a "hand-me-out" mentality nation. Should they give us an allowance to go to the wash house too? Just asking...

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

Look i'm not talking about free bee, i'm talking about nation building, Interest low loans to help and encourage farming. When people can get local produce for cheaper prices, now they have more money to spin elsewhere in turn helping the economy. In the U.S the government gives farmers incentive to farm and some people call it welfare for farmers, but if the farmers don't farm then they go hungry and complain about something else.. I never said just go out give crackheads and stupid people money, in fact I never said just go out and give anyone money for that matter, I said low interest loans, which you would have to pay back with interest, so get your story straight.

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notsogullible 2 years, 6 months ago

What I take exception to is your "back[ed] by the government" phrase. the other part of your statements seems well intended - I agree - but let's keep the government out of this, please. That's why we have the rate of poverty that we currently experience in this country - and all perpetrated by the "hand-me-out" mentality instilled by the PLP.

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

I also spoke of equipment rental in response to those who was talking about manuel labor, but government investments in terms of loan will help farmers and the government, because a prosporous economy is a friend to any government. I think the rate of poverty is in because Bahamians rely on foreign supply to much, look at the amount that is pour into the Florida economy every year it is just as much as our GDP. So i'm for anything that will encourage Bahamians to spend that money in the Bahamas.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

oh yeah loans from the gov to supporters that never get payed back ,thats all the development bank is when these fellas are in power ,,and please tell whose going to work these farms ,,look if theres money to be made there private enterprise will go into it and employ people ,,thats like Obamas green jobs ,not one job but a bunch of supporters got green .really think of everyone you know and come up with 50 people that could get a loan from the gov and make a farm work ....first your going need immigrant labor ,or do you see any kids coming out of school that will work farms ,next you,ll say if you pay them enough ,,yeah then a tomatoe will cost 15 dollars,,i watched a group of young men waiting for the bus to go to school passing around sweet smelling skin lotion and rubbing themselves down before going to school ,,they going to work the farms ??

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Arob 2 years, 6 months ago

Minister Gray should read the files at the Ministry of Agriculture before he makes public statements.
Raising chickens versus importing chicken. We have been down this road before. On one side, the Government receives import tax for chicken; on the other side, Government will be subsidizing the chicken farmers who cannot meet the demand for chicken.
It would be good if the Minister stops the sound bites and deal with the reality of the Bahamian agricultural sector.
Minister, find the investors for the agricultural sector, have them begin production - then predict the decline in imports.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

i,m telling you its all sound bites for there 75000 to go around parroting ,,it has no basis in reality ..i got to stop before they find out who i am and i can no longer work in my own country ..lmao

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Ironvelvet 2 years, 6 months ago

Bahamians need to stop looking at hard physical work as slave labor. Particularly when it comes to people who say they need jobs and have no money. Farming is honest work that produces food...that you don't have to buy. I hold one of the highest degrees attainable in academia and I plan on having my own home garden one day so much so that I need not go to the food store for my vegetables ever! There is alot of MONEY in farming if you know what you are doing. Look into my people! You can own a farm too, not only be a laborer.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

plan on having your own garden one day ??/and are our young people planing to go work in the dirt w/ crops and deal with chicken and pig poop one day ,remember when the U/S gave us, those tough bhrama cows free .they were ideal for our climate etc etc etc ,,is there one still alive ,can you even find the skeleton of one .....my belly hurts from all the sound bites the new cabinet is throwing out for thier followers to parrot ,,not from pain but from laugther ,this is almost as entertaining as a hooker ,a donkey ,and two circus midgets ,with no disrepect meant to the donkey ..lmao

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Ironvelvet 2 years, 6 months ago

First of all I am not a PLP and will never be a supporter. What I was addressing was the previous comments of people believing that Bahamians would never farm and the ridiculous encouragement of condoning that young people turn up their noses at farming. Farming can go to high scientific levels that unfortunately uninformed minds in the Bahamas are oblivious too. I hate when people turn up their noses to concepts they are unfamiliar with.

I am not disagreeing that on a large scale given the current 'climate' of agriculture in the Bahamas that it wouldn't be difficult to start even sustain. Anything successful in life experiences failure, sometimes multiple failures. Just because you fail doesn't mean you give up, there are other avenues to explore. P.S. its the mindset like those above that keep Bahamian Scientists who know more than a thing or two on the subject abroad.

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

Some folks always look at the negative part that is why they don't see farming as a viable option. Every sector need workers other than the laborers like you said, scientist, IT personnel, project management and so fort. If some kind of major desaster happens to country that export to the Bahamas people will starve and that is foolish to happen to a country that can produce just about anything. So I agree with what you're saying.

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dacy 2 years, 6 months ago

DID HE PULL HIS NOTES FROM 2002, BECAUSE DO REMEMBER HEARING THE SAME TALK 10 YEARS AGO!

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

Ii know a bit although not a cllege grad ,my grandfather was a farmer ,and my father worked the farm until he was 19 ,,,i am a fisherman and a carpenter..i don,t type well and my spelling is a bit off but i do alright .Do you know how hard it is to get people to work with you on boats ,except for a few islands ,and the moneies good .. not, against it i,m just not for goverment in private matters ,,,we have a long line of fish houses ,fish farms ,ice houses , fishing boats for generals in the islands ,yes i,ve been around a long time, paid for by the gov ,,rusted into the ground all over our country ,..things that you don,t have your sweat and blood in ,people walk awawy from when times get tough ..if a man puts his own money in something i have no problem with gov ,help ,,but when people have nothing in something they got nothing to lose ,,human nature

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notsogullible 2 years, 6 months ago

DYNAMICALLY WELL PUT!!! I am a college graduate but may I be the first to say that your input can be taken as expert advice. I am so familiar with your statement (being from the island myself). I come from a constituency that has never been PLP (ever) and yet in all those Pindling years and during the five years with PGC as prime minister, the PLP generals ALWAYS got flushed with government favours - fishing boats, bonded vehicles, bank loans, etc. and at the first need for maintenance on any of the equipment everything goes belly up. All because no hard work (blood, sweat and tears) went in to acquiring the equipment. During the time of PLP government, loans were defaulted like crazy because the generals felt they were above the law and political interference prevented the normal process.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

in my time i saw 19 fishing boats and a fishouse ,and gas to go out ..all the guys running the boats never would bring the full load to the generals fishouse ,in effect stealing from each other ,,needless to say 4 years belly up ..development bank nada ,nothing zilch ,,the guys didn,t even keep the free boats running

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

Having an argriculture industry is essentrial to any nation building look at any great country and see argriculture is big and if these country can do it, you mean to tell me Bahamians are to big to do it?. Look i'm working on my masters and i'm not saying that I will be field hand but I will certainly entertain having a farm of my own whenever I move back home because I think it is important and could eventually help the economy by keeping that money in the country that goes out to import. Everybody can't be doctors and Lawyers, so someone have to do it, it is hard work but other businesses can spring up from it. It can lead to products being made in the Bahamas like ketchup, and other stuff, also farm equipments could be a business by rental

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

thats sounds good ,when you get home put some money up and open a farm ,,i,m not against argriculture ,or people with some skin in the game getting gov assistances ,i just don,t like money just given away to make city kids farmers ,its like fishing either the sea is in your blood or not ,its the same thing w/ argro ,,,,old chinese proverb ,beware the man with nothing to lose ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,everyone wants the gov to do something for them,everyone wants something for nothing ..when i grew ,what you got for nothing was nothing,,i have two law abiding sisteres w/ masters that our great moms ,,i fish and can see things i built on different islands from the last 30 yrrs ,i,m a carpenter too,....my daddy and mummy taught us go out and work for what you want, don,t look for hand out ss gov is there to protect us ,infastructure and help the weakest and most needed out ,not finance people into business ,thats what banks are for

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

Why people keep saying money given away? a loan is not giving money away! Besides no one is going to give someone 100% of what is needed to start up any business because of what you are saying, but low interest loans to people who is putting something up to start a farm or any business that can help lower prices and keep money in the Bahamas. I understand what you were talking about earlier with people using the boats and not bring in most of the supplies to market to make a cut for themselves, because a lot of Bahamians don't think about tomorrow when they do these things, but the main problem is the government don't have checks and balance to make sure people follow through on things, and they loan to people who is part of the click first before people who is qualified.

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John 2 years, 6 months ago

FOOD SECURITY...City markets is closed and is expected to re- open under the ownership of the same owner of Super Value. What happens if Mr. Roberts decides to keep his keys in his pocket one day and not open his stores? FOOD for thought I guess but Bahamians like food with more substance. The Road Improvement Project (R.I.P fnm?) is proving that there are young Bahamians who are willing to do hard manual labor, in the sun and the rain. While they are motivated there should be substantial efforts generated towards reviving the farming and fishing and fish farming industry in the Bahamas. Most of the foods, produce and all coming from the USA has been genetically altered or force grown. While this may be necessary to meet market demands worldwide, we can still produce natural grown crops and animals in the Bahamas on a large enough sccale to at least compliment what we import. The foods from the USA make you grow big and grow fast but it does not sustain you, hence we are inheriting the same middle age and old folk diseases that has America paying medical bills out of its ears for.

Get the young people back to work on the farms and in the fishing boats. Change their diets to a more natural one..food created by GOD and watch the crime scurge and the diseases dissappear John 3:16

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

Thank you John, but even this lead to owning your own farm someday.Bahamians look at jobs in glory and I was somewhat that way back then, if you pay them $7/hr to work at the bank and dress up that is good and everyone look up to them but the conch man is look down as a lesser even though you may speak to him, but at the end of the day the person making $7/hr and all of his/her co-workers spend an hour and a half pay to buy conch salad and he just made about $100 in that hour. So money might not be everything but hey at the end of the day the conchman as well as the farmer or any type of jobs that most brainwash Bahamian snub their nose at makes more than them.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Farmer 2 years, 6 months ago

Modern farming is not all about imported back breaking hard labour that you guys are talking about. There are lots of good jobs in a healthy agricultural business or industry. Medium to Large scale farms need all kinds of people and support business to keep them running, mechanics, accountants, secretaries, managers, veterinarians, horticulturalists, electricians, plumbers, refrigeration people, truck drivers, marketing personal, IT people and the list goes on. It is not just some poor soul out in a field digging up potatoes in the hot sun with his bare hands on 1 acre of land. Bahamians have a grossly misconstrued view of farming. One person earlier mentioned about the poor soil in the Bahamas and only hydro farming could work but it is expensive. If you have a healthy farm and marine setup do you know how much land a chicken farms waste cant generate into rich soil or the waste from a fish processing facility being composted and made into dirt that is then tilled into our poor soil and this is a very cheap way to make soil. And the government has to play a role in this. There is no country on this planet that has a healthy agriculture sector that is not protected and supported by their government. There is no such thing as cheap free food. Somewhere along the line the farmers are getting tax breaks, or government money or protection so they can sell their product for more up front. Will the Bahamas ever have 100% food security? The answer is no but we maybe can extend out 1 weeks worth of food supply in this country to maybe 1 or 2 months so we wont starve or the shop runs out of food if the boat is late. Our government heavily subsidizes our tourism sector.

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

Finally someone see the big picture that i was trying to talk about in all of my earlier post, one of the major problems Bahamians have is negative a mindset, they wouldn't believe in the best plan if it was preseneted to them. The Bahamas can be prime for a lot of produce and products that can be made from those produce, I live in the U.S and had the priveledge to drive to many states and as I drive I always look at the landscape and what different states have to offer, if a place like Nebraska can produce corn with only about 5 months of good farming time think what the Bahamas could produce with all year round type of weather. Even when I was living home I use to wonder why in the world would a company have to import lawn for landscaping when this could be grown in the Bahamas, so God had me move to educate myself and learn from observing how the U.S work and I think our argriculture industry could strive better than in the U.S with the expertise in the field. Government investment is part of any growing country infrastructure so the educated person that try and tell me to leave the government out of it, I really wonder why he would say that. If we really look at it, most people shouldn't have to buy some of the produce that they buy in the first place because the could grow a lot of these things in our own back yard.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

this is so entirely simple ,,come home , start a farm ....i do grow tomatoes .cukes .papaya ,sour, .peppers .,last year some eggplant ..bananas ..also was just eating coco plums that grow on my property ,,and guess what the gov didn,t give me a low cost loan to do it ,,those coco,s are good i,m going for more ,,,bye

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

Congradulations to you, but most people don't just don't grow stuff themselves. Farming isn't the only thing I see a need for but someday I will be there doing that and more.

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Farmer 2 years, 6 months ago

There is actually a very large sod farm on Abaco several hundred acres or more and they are having a terrible time right now because so much sod is being imported. I know they had to lay off people a few months ago. Part of these foreign investment incentives (I call them subsidies) and tax excemptions that are given to new hotels and resorts should include stipulations on the heads of agreements that they need to buy locally produce items if available within say 10-15% more or less of average market prices.

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

I made a post saying the most of the same thing a few months back, I said when local items are available then charge higher duty for foreign produce to encourage people to buy locally, they will complain but they will complain anyway.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

good idea say within 10% we can,t "tax" too much because there are other locals competing for FDI dollars

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

yes it those negative minds that want goverment to be fiscally prudent and stay out of private enterprise ...lets see our debt to gdp is about 50%....the U/S is about 100% lets follow thier lead ..an before some one says i,m a republican or anti Obama t he U/S debt ratio didn,t get there in the last 4 and a half years it took decades of goverment subsidies,,,i always think gov should help the poorest and most vonuable amongts us ,after that banks are to help finance people that have a good business model ,,sorry for the spelling ...the more our debt to gdp goes up the more our ratings go down ,the more that happens the more it cost to borrow money ,,it may not be fair but thats the world we live in...

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spoitier 2 years, 6 months ago

Investing in the country is not fiscally irresponsible it is investing in things that is not needed or is less important at the present time, this is a sector other than tourism. Bad management led the U.S down the path that their on not subsidizing farmers,in fact even the money that the U.S gives out to other country is quid pro quo. Look the more product the Bahamas can produce then less people will carry money out of the country to buy it in Florida and other places, more checks and balances have to be apply for the plan to work but if the money stays in the country then that is money circulating around the Bahamas to help the economy. But on a side note intelligent perspective is always good, that is why a debate will be good during election time.

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

that makes sense .our you in the country spending your money ,if your earning money a broad are you senting it home .. i live on some land and grow stuff ,because i am not a great farmer and have to be on the sea alot i,ve asked differnt friends if they want to grow stuff ..i,ve already put in the ferilizer and water system ,,i really want nothing from it ,they can eat them ,sell them ,give them to friends ..i live alone and i think its a shame for things to go to waste ..not one taker even the ones that complain about money all the time and ask for work ,,if i don,t pick the tomatoes and drive them to town ,4 miles away ,they rot on the vine ....everybody i give the tomatoes to loves them and says Bahamian grown is best but no one pitches in a hand ,,,not money i,m not asking for that,,,,to have any produce they want, the bananas are starting to show signs of a good yield now ,,,i will prob be drivivg them to town too ,,i,ve told many people come get them sell them ,seems there too busy flocking from numbers house to numbers house in our little town ,,four houses on a island with 3000 people .with about a quater of them sitting under the tree talking bout God sending them a number in a dream ,,now God is a gambling handicapper

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concernedcitizen 2 years, 6 months ago

oh yeah i forgot once in awhile the people that i,ve told can grow things or have want they want show up with a couple fruits trees taking fom God knows where to sell me ,,i like trees so if i have money i buy them ,then the same people that tell me what a great fruit bearing tree it is dissapear as the fruit rots ,,,,only to reappear in a couple months to sell me more ""perhaps hoT" trees ,,they could have planted them where lhey live or got the fruit off the ones here to sell ,,naw they just wanna come buy every couple months to sell me someone else dug up trees ..and the saddest part there not even crackheads

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negruvoda 1 year, 10 months ago

I believe that opening a frozen yogurt business for this purpose will bring you more profit. Usually people buy faster when they know that a part of their money go on helping poor children. I've a successful auto service business from which a part of annual profit goes to poor families.

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