The Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. Michael Pintard explained that the Ministry has empowered the Executing
Agency, Bahamas Agriculture and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) to strategically manage the Industrialization of Cascarilla in The Bahamas.
“BAIC has been working tirelessly with the support of its collaborative partners – Department of Forestry, Dept of Cooperatives, the Bahamas Environment, Science & Technology (BEST) Commission, the Bahamas Development Bank, Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute, Acklins Islanders Cooperative Society and Caribbean Agriculture and Research Development Institute to ensure the project’s success, Minister Pintard said during a press conference at the Ministry, June 9, 2021.
He explained that the research element of the industrialization of cascarilla is being funded through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Pine Islands – Forest/Mangrove Innovation and Integration Program. The program combines funds for GEF, along with cash contributions from the Bahamas Government and “in-kind” contributions from the agencies. The Minister stated that the pro-rata share of funds for pilot 2 “Cascarilla Bark Cultivation and Processing of Cascarilla Oil” of Component 3 “Sustainable Livelihoods” is $1.41 million. This amount includes $422,000 from GEF, $200,000 from the Bahamas Government and $792,000 of “in-kind” contributions from the stakeholders.
Minister Pintard said the multi-agency initiative has national implications. “This project has the capacity to be a game changer for the lives of the people in Acklins and Crooked Islands.
“The business goal of this initiative is to supply Cascarilla oil as a base for the perfume and medicine industries.”
He noted that historically, the country has exported the raw bark resulting in negligible benefits to the people in the south. “The Ministry aims to change that. This project will help Bahamians produce a value-added product so that we can demand a premium for our natural resource.”
The Minister added, “The program also seeks to mechanize a presently laborious industry. “Economic empowerment of the citizens of Acklins and Crooked Islands is the goal, industrialization of cascarilla is the means. The Cascarilla industrialization project will create jobs and small business development opportunities for ancillary services “
He stated that the recently formed Acklins Islanders Cooperative Society Ltd., which has 315 fully paid financial members, is leading the charge by providing the business structure for investment in the natural resource. Additionally, Minister Pintard said the Office of the Prime Minister has approved the application for crown land in the amount of 105 acres for the processing plant. The Bank Development Bank has also committed to adjudicating the Cooperative’s application for funding of a manufacturing plant in Acklins. Representatives from the partnering agencies also attended the press conference where a short video explaining plans for the industrialization of the Cascarilla industry in the country was shown.