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CARICOM Ministers of Agriculture tour BAMSI
By Llonella Gilbert Bahamas Information Services
Feb 27, 2015 - 2:50:41 PM

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Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Development the Hon. V. Alfred Gray tours BAMSI with his colleague Agriculture Ministers from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). (BIS Photo/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.)

North Andros, The Bahamas -- Ministers of Agriculture of the Caribbean Community toured the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute just prior to CARICOM’s opening of the 26th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean in Nassau, February 26-27.

The Bahamas Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government the Hon. V. Alfred Gray thanked the agriculture representatives for taking the tour of the North Andros agricultural initiative with him.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Labour and Social Security in Jamaica the Hon. Luther Buchanan spoke on behalf of his fellow Caribbean Ministers and praised the Bahamas Government on the project, stating: “It is indeed impressive and I commend the Government on this initiative and I implore the people of this land to support wholeheartedly this programme of sustained agriculture, sustained because agricultural education is important; it is the nerve centre of appreciating the eat what you grow concept. It is the nerve centre of the development of any country.”

President, Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and the Bahamas Ambassador to FAO Godfrey Eneas speaks with the media during the tour of the Tutorial Commercial Farm while Executive Director, BAMSI, Dr. Rovenia Roberts Hanna and some of the Agriculture Ministers from the Caribbean Community and other officials look on. (BIS photo/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.)

He said he was very happy and proud to say that while BAMSI was being conceptualised, a visit was made to Jamaica’s Ebony Park facilities in the Parish of Clorinda, thus, both agricultural facilities shared beneficial features to deal with food security and sustainable agricultural practices.

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization’s representative to The Bahamas, stationed in Jamaica -- Dr. Jerome Thomas said it was the Organization’s second trip in the last two months to visit BAMSI and he has been very impressed with the concept that has been developed combining education and production -- an attempt to address the very high food import bill that the country has, and which is estimated to be about a billion dollars.

He explained that the FAO will need to examine requirements of the Institute before it identifies where it may be able to help BAMSI, even if it means getting help internationally.

Ministers of Agriculture or their representatives came from the Caribbean countries of Jamaica, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Belize and Barbados.

Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute Student is interviewed. (BIS Photo/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.)

The Hon. V. Alfred Gray thanked his colleague Agriculture Ministers and representatives from the Caribbean Community, stating the Bahamas Government is grateful to all who have assisted in realizing the development of BAMSI.

“We have looked at the facilities, we have looked at the farm and I am very grateful to the contractors, the teachers, the principal, the directors, and all of you played a major role in bringing this facility to this point that we can show it to the rest of the Caribbean.”

He said BAMSI’s commercial tutorial farm and academic sites were originally places with a lot of bush, but they have come a long way.

Farmland. (BIS Photo/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.)

Minister Gray noted BAMSI is the brainchild of Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, who has pumped great financial resources into making the Institute a success. “I want to go on record as the Minister for BAMSI to thank him for all he has done and all that he continues to do to make this realization possible.”Among the crops being planted on the tutorial commercial farm are papayas, bananas, pineapples, coconuts, limes and peanuts. Another area is being established for another area for avocadoes and mangoes.

The Ministers and representatives toured the aquaponics area where the marriage of aquaculture and hydroponics that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system will occur. The fish waste will provide an organic food source for the growing plants, and plants will provide a natural filter for the water the fish will live in. They also saw the unfinished building where livestock will be housed at night. The building is designed in such a way that will allow the waste of the animals to be collected as organic matter for the farm. As such, the facility will develop systems of recycling.

Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute Student is interviewed. (BIS Photo/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.)

The group to North Andros was accompanied by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Rene Glinton; President, BAMSI and the Bahamas Ambassador to FAO Dr. Godfrey Eneas; Executive Director, BAMSI, Dr. Rovenia Roberts Hanna; Mr. Benjamin Rahming, General Manager, the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation and Omar Thomas and Project Director and Consultant for the Tutorial Commercial Farm at BAMSI.

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