The Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) is “here to support our farmers, not compete with them”, a senior executive has pledged.
Dr Raveenia Roberts-Hanna, its executive director, challenged concerns that the Institute is in direct competition with Bahamian farmers, many of whom already feel there is a general lack of support for the industry.
“We are here to support our farmers. We are not here to compete with them because, for too long, farmers have said nobody is checking for them. And they have issues, they have problems, so it’s important that we have a system that allows us to facilitate their needs as best as we can,” Dr Roberts-Hanna said during her address to the 2019 Andros Business Outlook.
She also focused on the tertiary level academic programmes that are in place to ensure future Bahamian farmers have both a theoretical and practical grounding in agriculture, with an emphasis on best practices.
Dr Roberts-Hanna added that even if an aspiring student was in the midst of a financial crisis, it would not negate their chances of being admitted into BAMSI, as full and partial scholarships are available. She was also pleased to highlight that upon completion of their studies, graduates are less likely to succumb to unemployment, as their attendance at the Institute provides them with a number of job opportunities.
“I got job offers for 12. They want 12 BAMSI students. Solomon’s wants a produce manager, and they’ve earmarked that just for a BAMSI student. Enviroscape just last week wanted eight students as managers. They know that when they come to BAMSI, they get that hands-on practical experience and exposure,” Dr Roberts-Hanna said.
She highlighted why BAMSI was founded, and why those reasons – to help build a food secure nation, to advance the level of education and training amongst industry participants and stakeholders, and to implement sustainable measures that support the overall health of the environment, industry, economy and citizens - is still relevant considering the current state of food security in the Bahamas. This nation still imports around $1bn in food imports annually.
Part of the Institute’s response to this challenge are its five associate degree programmes – agriculture, marine science, aquaculture, environmental science and agribusiness. Five new degree programmes are expected to be added for the upcoming fall term.