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Bahamas to grow country’s fisheries/agricultural sectors
By Matt Maura
Feb 28, 2018 - 7:24:49 PM

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti –Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Hon. Renward Wells says he will take advantage of the knowledge-base of CARICOM Institutions such as the Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute (CARDI) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) to re-assert The Bahamas as a major player in the region’s agricultural sector, while simultaneously expanding marine exports from The Bahamas.

The latter is of particular significance with regards to possibly developing the area of the harvesting of pelagic species (open water fish such as tuna, deep sea red snapper) in The Bahamas – one Minister Wells says Bahamians have not been interested in pursuing in the past, but one where there is “vast amount of resources in terms of tuna, deep sea red snapper and those type of fish.”

Minister Wells held a number of discussions with regional counterparts and officials of the two CARICOM Institutions while in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for the 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Established in 1975 by CARICOM Heads of Government to serve the agricultural research and development needs of the then 12-Member Countries within CARICOM, CARDI has provided “sterling contributions” to the growth and development of the agricultural sector of Member Countries of the Caribbean Community.  

Launched in 2003, the CRFM promotes and facilitates the responsible utilization of the region's fisheries and other aquatic resources for the economic and social benefits of the people of the region. The CRFM consists of three bodies – the Ministerial Council; the Caribbean Fisheries Forum; and the CRFM Secretariat.

“We are an Executive Member of the Board of CFRM and we share information with them especially in the areas of grouper and lobster harvesting,” Minister Wells said.

“As a new Minister, and someone who is very much interested in expanding our marine exports, I am very much interested in how we go about developing the harvesting of pelagic species. It is an area of fisheries Bahamians have never been really too interested in, but one that our Caribbean partners have been involved (in) and so we are looking as to how we can get them to cooperate with us - giving us the requisite information that they would have experienced over the years and just exploring those opportunities to really grow fisheries in the country.

“No man is an island and even the good book says in the multitude of counsel, there is safety, Minister Wells added.”

Minister Wells says the Government of The Bahamas pays its “fair share” to the two CARICOM Institutions. He said officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources intend to take advantage of this expertise for the benefit of Bahamian farmers and fishermen.

“We are growing as a country on the agricultural side. (However), some of our Caribbean partners are ahead of us in terms of agricultural development and so I want The Bahamas to re-assert itself in that regard for us to grow agriculture.”

Minister Wells says the country pays CARDI $188,000 a year. The Institute has a representative stationed in The Bahamas working along with The Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute.

“At any point and time we call on CARDI in terms of experiences in chicken growing and harvesting, the entire agricultural spectrum, and so I am looking as to how we can maximize the knowledge-base in the Caribbean in agriculture, to bring a lot of that here to the country, to spread it through BAMSI, to spread it through us working along with the farmers in the country so that we can take agriculture from strength to strength,” Minister Wells added.

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