Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Hon. Clay Sweeting said The Bahamas has made great strides to work with CARICOM countries to enhance The Bahamas’ poultry industry.
Minister Sweeting traveled with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Hon I. Chester Cooper, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Leonardo Lightbourne, Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) Ambassador H.E. Winston Pinnock and other top tourism officials to the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo held in Guyana from May 18-20.
The event was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Center under the theme ‘Investing in Vision 25 by 2025’.
During the conference, Minister Sweeting met with several CARICOM leaders in Agriculture.
He said he felt encouraged that the region would work together to reduce its food import bill and increase food security.
“In coming to Guyana, we wanted to explore opportunities and options, meet with other countries where we can work with other CARICOM leaders who also share the same focus as The Bahamas in developing their agricultural sector. We are trying to get to the point where we reduce imports by 25 percent by 2025. The Bahamas is a part of CARICOM and so we are committed to that and we’re looking for sectors to do that. We feel that poultry is one of the sectors that we can do that very quickly and microgreens through vertical farming,” he said.
Minister Sweeting added that many countries are merging their poultry sectors with other food items that they can export.
“As we look around, countries have done very well in the sector. We understand that Guyana is one of the countries that has done well in Agriculture especially in poultry and coconut production. So, it seems that many countries are merging the two industries,” he said. “That’s what seems to be happening across CARICOM. For persons that are interested in investing in Agriculture, other countries are finding ways to work together to fight food insecurity together and as a unit.
“We feel both are bankable products and we are exploring opportunities to garner attraction in both of those. We were able to visit the poultry farm here in Guyana – Bounty Farms – that has done a wonderful job and produce around 25,000 chickens per day, and we are looking to do something of that sort in The Bahamas as well. Once we create this poultry industry in The Bahamas, it would create opportunities for Bahamians, for farmers and persons who want to get involved in producing feed. So, it is a full circle industry where thousands of Bahamians could benefit.”
Minister Sweeting noted that countries like Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana are eager to assist The Bahamas.
“What is very interesting and exciting is that the Ministers from Guyana and Jamaica have expressed their assistance to us as a country. If we are looking at the poultry sector, they are looking to help us in any way that they can. The comradery that we have had here over the last few days speaks to what we want to do as a CARICOM country and how our deficiencies could assist them and where they have deficiencies, we can work together. The minister of tourism met with other ministers of tourism and offered them some advice on how they can work with their tourism product and where we lack in agriculture they can assist in that manner as well,” he said.
Minister Sweeting said the government will work towards changing policies to encourage chicken production.
“Chicken is something that we can produce very quickly once we have the right policy in place to protect the farmers, the producers and processors and create an industry. A chicken from egg to adult is very minimal time. We want to be very aggressive with this and as soon as we can create a proper policy in this sector, we want to make it happen,” he said.