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Farmers See 'Quadrupling' Of Interest

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamian public's interest in farming and growing their own produce has "quadrupled" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of an agriculture group said yesterday.

Caron Shepherd, president of the newly-formed Bahamas Agro Entrepreneurs Group, told Tribune Business yesterday that while "it's sad that it took a pandemic event for the populace to understand" the industry's value it has also provided farmers with much-needed attention.

And, with the head of the United Nations' (UN) World Food Programme this week warning numerous countries face a "famine of biblical proportions" due to COVID-19's impact on agricultural production, Ms Shepherd argued that The Bahamas needed to "take the bull by the horns" and take clearly-defined strides towards improved food security.

"This is something that has been on the agenda for quite some time but has never got any attention, and it's only now that we're realising how much attention it needs," she added of food security. "The minister [Michael Pintard] is trying to inspire the farmers to do the best jobs they can at this point, and is working behind the scenes to put some far behind it and get it going.

"It's extremely urgent. Some countries are saying they are not shipping outside their borders at this particular time, and as a result of that we might not be able to get certain items from outside. We have to produce ourselves. The farmers are really excited. This is one of those times when they are really busy and the populace is realising the value.

"A lot of them are coming down to Down to Earth Adventure Farms looking for seedlings to start their own gardens," Ms Shepherd added. "The populace is realising the value of being able to produce a few of their own every day items, and are starting to value the expertise of the farmers.

"I would say all this has at least quadrupled the interest of the majority of persons coming and purchasing fresh produce and getting backyard gardens going. We're having a significant increase in that area. That's very encouraging."

Ms Shepherd said the Agro Entrepreneurs Group had continued to press forward with their plans for developing greenhouses and grow houses that will enable year-round crop production in The Bahamas, adding that it hoped to have "something in hand by the end of this week" in terms of a concrete proposal following a series of video conferences with its Israeli coalition partners.

"I tend to say that in every crisis there's an opportunity, but it's also time for innovation," she added. "That's where we're at. All the farmers are stepping up their game. Even though the summer is coming they're still planting and growing to see how much produce comes out. It's sad it's taken a pandemic event for the populace to understand the value."

Comments

Porcupine 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, ". It's sad it's taken a pandemic event for the populace to understand the value." That said, it is nice to see the renewed interest. I hope this can be sustained and nurtured so that food sovereignty becomes a way of life for us. I also hope that we adopt the latest techniques in organic and sustainable farming so that we can refrain from poisoning ourselves and the planet while serving our fellow citizens and becoming a part of the earth, again, for our health and mental well being.

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gbgal 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Hoping the farmers in the Family Islands have the support from the agricultural officials to get their products to our large local markets intact and without excessive spoilage and to get paid on time. It is heart-breaking to read of the many challenges our farmers face in this regard. In my opinion, it is the Distribution Chain that is our weakest link. We, the consumers, lose out on fresh, homegrown products while the farmer faces discouragement despite his hard work. Let's fix this problem.

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry to say, but if the rural Out Island farmers do not eke out a living for themselves by subsistence and small private sales or selling a little to the Packing House, there is little Government technical or financial support ……… don't mind MAMR hot air …….. Check the farmers on the ground

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joeblow 3 months, 2 weeks ago

... it may be worthwhile to consider dehydrating certain products to prevent spoilage (onions, tomatoes, papaya etc) I recently brought a pack of sundried tomatoes for $7.99!

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bahamianson 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Immigration officers.a.nd.police.officers need.to do something with the daily stealing of goats, sheep, cows, ducks, chickens from Farmers on Cowpen Road. The illegal immigration problem is front and center.for farmers in Carmichael and Cowpen Road.

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SP 3 months, 2 weeks ago

This has been an ongoing problem for decades. In many cases, Haitians hired to tend farms and their friends are stealing the bulk of crops before owners get to harvest. With this pandemic going on and a slowdown in jobs for them, Haitians will be stealing even more!

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Porcupine 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Interesting. Most Bahamians I know prefer to hire Haitians for exactly the opposite reason you are suggesting. Is there something that has escaped you in the last 30 years, suggesting that there is a lack of Bahamian thieves in this country?

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tom1912 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Perhaps the import of all that expensive produce (some crap and full of unnecessary chemicals] ) from the US can be reduced, that doesn't go thru customs! However removing VAT from all food [As in the UK] would be a good idea!

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Newgate 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Gardening is something i've been trying to lock down for the past 2-3 years. I've only been able to grow things in a small 15x6 area. the only thing holding me back is a hole in the ground that used to be a tank for water from before water and sewage came to my island. If i could get it filled in i could grow a decent amount of food, although with the poor soil on my island, it would take years of toil to get the soil where production can really ramp up (chemical fertilizers can get me going right away but i'm avoiding that.)

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