Gov’t unveils $1m grant to boost ‘food security’


Tribune Business Reporter


The Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) yesterday received $1m in grant funding that will be distributed between small and medium-sized businesses to boost Bahamian “food security”.

Jomo Campbell, minister for agriculture and marine resources, said the launch of the Food Security Initiative Sustainable Growth Grant will help to create sustainable jobs and dent The Bahamas’ $1bn annual food import bill. The funding will be provided to the SBDC by his ministry, and split 60/40 in favour of fisheries businesses as opposed to their agriculture counterparts.

“I am elated that my ministry and partners, the BAIC (Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation), SBDC and, by extension, the Davis administration are again tangibly demonstrating their belief in Bahamians with the launch of the Sustainable Food grant,” Mr Campbell said.

“This grant will make available millions of dollars in funding over the next three years for persons operating businesses in the agriculture and fishing industries.” Some 60 percent of the funding will be allocated to businesses in the fishing industry, and 40 percent to those in the agriculture sector. Training will also be provided for successful applicants to help them run their businesses.

Samantha Rolle, the SBDC’s executive director, said micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) will be allowed to receive up to $40,000 per applicant. “As of 2022, nearly 90 percent of our food was imported, amounting to an annual cost of approximately $1bn,” she added.

“According to the International Trade Administration, this dependence has left MSMEs in the agriculture and fisheries sector grappling with obstacles from insufficient access to land, boats and equipment to a lack of knowledge about the most demanding products in the market.

“Yet, despite these challenges, the agricultural and fisheries sectors remain vital contributors to job creation, income generation, poverty alleviation and overall food security. Under the guaranteed loan programme, the SBDC, in collaboration with key partners such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, and the BAIC, as it’s affectionately called, is proud to launch the Food Security Initiative today.

“This initiative is multi-faceted with the following components - training programmes, informing entrepreneurs in farming, fishing and supporting industries on sustainable business practices, and fostering an ecosystem among these entrepreneurs across various islands.”

Farmers and fishermen will also be prepared to be featured on the SBDC’s e-commerce platform.


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