“I am very proud of what I am seeing here in terms of food processing and the creation of handicrafts,” said Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Hon. Michael Pintard on his visit to the Department of Cooperatives Summer Programme: “Empowerment Camp” at C.C. Sweeting High School, Friday, July 20, 2018. The programme is a hands-on training project where students learn how to operate and manage their own cooperatives, while at the same time learning agricultural processing skills. Students processed goods such as pepper sauce and tomato seasoning. They also made skincare products such as facial scrubs, astringents, and cleansers. Their handicraft items ranged from straw-work to seashell items. Students were also able to grow different types of plants that can be used as food and medicine.
Minister Pintard reflected back on September 11, 2001, when vessels were unable to come to The Bahamas because of a restriction by the U. S. Government. He said, “We learned very quickly that our food reserves are so low that if we were to encounter a tragedy of the same magnitude, we would struggle to feed everyone.” He explained that food security was important to the last Government Administration as well as this Administration. Minister Pintard has hopes that the students involved in the summer programme will consider career paths or entrepreneurship in the various areas they were introduced to. He said, “If you are interested in food processing, then your competition is halfway around the world. Too many Bahamians are now competing in the same fields.” Lakelle Kinteh, a 17-year-old 12th grader from St. Augustine’s College shared that the camp really opened her mind to other professional opportunities that were different from her chosen career path of heart surgery. She said, “Heart surgeons work on an alternating time schedule and that would allow me to be able to be in my own kitchen making foods or facial scrubs in my free time.”