By RASHAD ROLLE
SEVERAL government officials yesterday attended a ground-breaking ceremony in the Soldier Road Industrial Park, where a new state-of-the-art administrative office and a training centre for the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation is being constructed.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis and the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government V Alfred Gray were among the dignitaries who gave remarks during the event.
Mr Davis said: “I can’t overstate the importance of BAIC in terms of economic activities for the Bahamas.
“What we have in abundance is land. We need to use this to our advantage. I believe the Bahamas can set a meaningful goal for self sufficiency in food production. We need to assist our farmers. It makes sense to do so.”
Mr Gray said: “I don’t know of any government entity with a greater responsibility to ensure the arts and crafts, handicraft and agriculture prospers than BAIC.”
Arnold Forbes, chairman of BAIC, hailed the expected facilities as the first of their kind in the Bahamas.
“I invite you to look around these premises,” he said. “Although there has been great improvement what you see here today will be no more in eight months time, it will be replaced with a state-of-the-art green building, the first of its kind in any government ministry or corporation, replete with solar power, solar lighting energy efficient LED bulbs, solar street lighting and the works, a building that reflects the 21st century direction in which our Prime Minister is moving our country.
“This park, which for too long has been an eye-sore in this community, will be transformed into a haven which will advance the plight of entrepreneurs who would like to start there own business.
“This park will be known for its fruit orchards, model vegetable gardens and its mariculture farm and tranquil green spaces.
“This park will be transformed into what was envisioned by the act of parliament in 1981 that brought to life the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation.”
Mr Forbes said yesterday’s ceremony symbolised the government’s commitment to progression and putting people first.
“Upon my appointment as executive chairman of this corporation 14 months ago, I placed the execution of the construction of this building at the top of my agenda, for I realised that to obtain full productivity from the employees I had to create an environment condusive to growth and creativity.
“I think that we are on the verge of achieving what we set out to do. This building will reflect the important role that BAIC plays in the development of our country. This building, which will symbolise achievement, belongs to everyone who has toiled at the corporation both past and present, for those of you who have gone the extra mile when no one was watching, who showed up to work dedicated and prepared to move the corporation’s agenda forward, for those who have left a legacy of excellence whether as executive men or line staff. This is your moment to be proud.”
Mr Forbes also outlined the future plans of BAIC’s executive board.
He said: “We are resolute in our pursuit of establishing a well trained and certified agricultural marketing unit who will be trained and certified to international standards to ensure that Bahamian grown products are sold not when they are harvested but are sold in the field while they grow, these are the first steps down the road to food security.
“We are committed to establishing a light industrial sector which will ensure that our youth will have options other than our traditional career paths, this has already been started through the technical courses being offered through partnerships with BTVI and the private sector, our renowned handicraft department will continue to evolve so that we can take advantage of our ever growing tourism sector in short BAIC is now about growing, partnering and empowering.
“The corporation has been re-branded and now has an fully functional website for we want the world to watch us as we grow and grow we will.”