Groundbreaking for the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation’s new Corporate Office took place at the Soldier Road Industrial Park, Thursday, July 18, 2013. Pictured fourth from left is Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie; to his right, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development the Hon Philip Davis and the DPM’s right, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government the Hon. V. Alfred Gray. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)
Prime Minister Christie gives six mandates to BAIC
Bahamas - Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie gave six mandates to
the management and staff of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation
during the groundbreaking ceremony for their new corporate office at the
Soldier Road Industrial Park, Thursday, July 18, 2013.
Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development; the Minister of
Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government the Hon. V. Alfred Gray;
other Cabinet Ministers and Senior Government officials were present.
Minister said BAIC could start fulfilling the mandates as they wait for
completion of the structure within the next seven months.
The Sponge Industry
He said, “I
expect with immediate effect, a policy commitment of going into Mangrove Cay,
Andros and other places in The Bahamas where they farm sponge, and understand
the mechanics as it is practiced in Mangrove Cay.”
Christie said he expected BAIC to lead the way in researching whether it is
more profitable for sponges to be cleaned and processed in The Bahamas rather
than just the raw product being exported.
Creating a shell industry
Minister explained that tourists spend millions of dollars in The Bahamas on
souvenirs and handicrafts, and he wants more of those dollars to stay within
second mandate the Prime Minister has for BAIC includes visiting stores at
resorts and investigating where the shells sitting on the shelves originated.
“If they are
honest with you they will tell you they are from Vietnam or the Philippines.”
He argued that
shells collected from the beaches in The Bahamas such as the whelk shell, when
polish could compete with the shells coming from abroad.
Christie also noted that The Bahamas has one of the highest outflows of foreign
currency out of the country within the region, because of the huge amount of
So he expects
for BAIC to look into the industry and manufacturing of shells and study how
beneficial exporting them can be for Bahamians.
Utilise Government bought equipment
As for mandate
number three, the Prime Minister anticipates that equipment brought into the
country by the Government to aide in manufacturing and processing will be
utilised and not set aside to rot.
Agriculture and Marine Institute
Christie also expects BAIC to work with the Ministry of Education in setting up
the Agricultural and Marine Institute.
“BAIC has led
the way enabling me to propagate a new policy of creating an Agricultural and
Marine Institute in North Andros and it is not an idle promise.”
He said, “This
is going to be the opportunity for The Bahamas, to take advantage of cruise
ships and hotels that stated that if we could produce on a sustained basis,
they will buy.”
Minister explained that commercial farming will be taught and demonstrated at
the Institute and produce packaged and processed.
“I expect the
new Institute to open in September of next year, but the first set of crops
would have been grown by then and everybody living in The Bahamas would have
tasted what would have been produced.”
He added, “It
will create a new city in North Andros around which people will have jobs and
this will take advantage of the 100,000 acres of agricultural land down there.”
Christie said, “This is a critical major new paradigm in agriculture, new
paradigm in processing, and a new paradigm in education that we are going to
put in and making this a major effort to take advantage of the purchasing power
of the tourism industry that we are expanding as we go on.”
Helping Bahamian talent
Minister also intends for BAIC to examine how young Bahamians throughout the
islands can be helped who have talents but do not have the means to demonstrate
and express those talents.
He said the
Minister of Agriculture will report whatever resources are needed to achieve
the mandates and he will make sure they are executed.