Discussions are currently being held that could position BAMSI and the wider Bahamas as a regional hub for research studies across the agricultural and marine landscapes, Minister of Agriculture and Marine
Resources Michael Pintard said on Friday, adding that his office is pursuing several avenues that could lead to increased financial support for Bahamian farmers and fishers. The announcement came during a meeting between the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and Central State University (CSU) to discuss the possibility of forming a partnership and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that could radically change the dynamic of agricultural studies, research, sector management and funding for both bodies.
“We are interested in being the hub for the region where a variety of studies are taking place on livestock, life sciences, and marine science, etc., so as you apply for grants, we would welcome a partnership where some of those studies can be conducted here particularly on tropical varieties, whether its crops, small ruminants, and livestock that thrive in this region,” Mr. Pintard said. The minister also identified two programs he hoped the Bahamas could benefit from with the support of CSU. The first is a lucrative insurance initiative offered through state and federal agencies that provide crop insurance up to 60 percent and income support programs to farmers. He proposed that CSU could assist, in terms of helping to outline a similar plan for Bahamian farmers and fishers, and also serving as a bridge to possible sources of funding and grant-issuing agencies. A second US initiative provides African American male and female farmers with up to 90 percent in subsidies for certain inputs, such as seeds, soil amendments, and pesticides. Mr. Pintard indicated his desire to work with Central State to see whether joint commercial enterprises between Bahamians and African American farmers could benefit from the subsidies. “Can we do some joint ventures where that is transferable if you have farmers who are trying to get a greater market share in Ohio to collaborate with BAMSI in a commercial enterprise here in the Bahamas and the share that they get is transferable to the Bahamas?”
Joining the minister where Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources Carlton Bowleg. Senior members of BAMSI were also on hand, including President and Chairman of the Board Tennyson Wells and Executive Director Dr. Raveenia Roberts-Hanna. Jahan Culbreath, vice president, Division of Institutional Advancement and Athletics said Bahamian students are already well integrated throughout Central State’s campus, from athletic teams and band to clubs and other activities. “We want to expand that to our agriculture program. We want to be able to have some of the students from BAMSI to matriculate to Central State with an easy transition. My hope is that we can form the MOU and then get our ag people to talk to your ag people and really get down into the weeds and figure out what we can connect with.”
Mr. Culbreath said that they were not just interested in taking on graduates, but also supporting current students who were looking for internship opportunities and going forward becoming sister schools where each organization can help the other to grow. “It’s not just students benefitting, but even possibly some internships with students
coming and learning. We have a whole different set of agriculture that we look at like soy and wheat, then our kids can come and learn here and we can even have a faculty exchange. This could be really wonderful and kind of endless.” While in the Bahamas, the CSU group visited 17 schools on three islands, Grand Bahama, Andros and New Providence during their visit. He also shared that CSU, which sits on 650 acres in Wilberforce, Ohio and is currently expanding into aquaponics, is the most affordable university in the state and the third most affordable in the entire USA.