By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
AN Abaco poultry producer yesterday said it would be “amazing” if the Bahamas could produce even half the poultry it consumes “within two years”.
Lance Pinder, operations manager at Abaco Big Bird Farm, told Tribune Business that the Minister of Agriculture’s target for the Bahamas to become self-sufficient in chicken production by 2020 was “ambitious” but achievable if there was buy-in from all stakeholders.
“I think if everyone gets on board it could be realistically done. You have to have all of the players; the wholesalers, government and the farmers, who want to do it. That’s a big goal but not impossible,” said Mr Pinder.
He was speaking after Renward Wells, minister of agriculture and marine resources, last week suggested that the Bahamas could become a self-sufficient chicken producer in two years, given that the Government has committed to providing a tax incentive framework to rejuvenate local output. The Minister added that local Bahamian producers currently serve just 1 per cent of the market.
Mr Pinder said foreign imports, and logistical challenges related to inter-island shipping, are among the challenges facing poultry producers such as Abaco Big Bird.
The company also produces limes and avocados, and Mr Pinder underscored the importance of market access. “You need to have market access; it can’t just be at the whim. A store could just decide not to put your produce on the shelf ‘just because’, and that can’t happen,” he added.
“I think what the Minister has said is certainly ambitious, but if we could even get half-way in two years that would be amazing.” Mr Wells said Bahamians consume about 40 million pounds of chicken per year.