ADO executive chairman Phillip Smith yesterday. Photos: Moise Amisial
By LYNAIRE MUNNINGS
THE AGRICULTURAL Development Organisation (ADO) in partnership with The Church Commercial Farming Group (TCCFG) yesterday launched a programme to support backyard, community and church farming.
Officials believe this is the largest programme of its kind to be implemented in The Bahamas.
The initial effort will provide the necessary supplies and oversight to start up to 500 backyard farms with as many as another 4,500 to follow within a year.
Nearly four months ago, ADO presented a cheque totalling nearly $197,925 to TCCFG. The funds have since been used to purchase supplies, hire full-time staff and begin preparations.
Yesterday, Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Minister Clay Sweeting applauded the joint initiative of ADO and TCCFG as it has the potential to restore the culture of farming in the country.
“We are working diligently together to encourage Bahamians to get back to their roots and to place their own healthy food into the ground,” he said. “Bahamians must resonate with the idea that it is good to grow.”
Mr Sweeting said the government wants to change the culture of farming and encourage youth and women specifically to join the industry.
According to the minister, Bahamians can assist in reducing the import bill of $1bn a year.
“We can feed ourselves, it’s not impossible. Food security as you saw in the budget is a top priority for my ministry and the government and we are working assiduously hard to achieve this goal,” he said.
ADO executive chairman Phillip Smith said: “This is an exciting day when, for the first time in our history, we in The Bahamas are making it possible for thousands of backyard farms to be started without any cost to those who want to farm.
“We look forward to seeing in the not too distant future, thousands and thousands of backyard farmers as well as many community farms and church farms throughout the Bahamas as we plant the seed for greater food security.”
The farming kits include tubing, soil, seed trays, liquid fertiliser and seeds. Additionally, for each new garden the staff will assist with the preparation of soil, planting, irrigation fertilising and monitoring.
Applicants can apply online for participation in the programme.