THE BAHAMAS AGRICULTURE & MARINE SCIENCE Institute (BAMSI) has reinforced its Andros-based workforce with the addition of two agricultural specialists. Executive Chairman Senator, the Hon. Tyrel Young announced yesterday the appointed of new farm manager Ayrett Lightbourne and head of the livestock and poultry division Justin Taylor. The two come at time when the Institute is looking to deepen its impact on the agricultural sector.
Chairman Young indicated that within the next few months, BAMSI will accelerate production on the farm for both produce and livestock and also increase its research efforts. “We will be starting a piggery, the first piggery for BAMSI, and along with that we will be engaging in research studies, collecting data in order to help local farmers and the industry grow. Part of this project is also about creating a more robust breed of swine in the Bahamas. Once the piggery is operational, we will be able to disseminate the results of our research throughout the country so farmers will know, for example the best feed for their animals, the best conditions for them to grow, how to care for the offspring and so on,” he said.
“Our goal is to introduce better blood lines into the whole Bahamas. We will bring in top breeds, breed them with local animals and then share the offspring with farmers with the expectation that they will add their offspring to a communal pool per se which other farmers can tap into.”
According to the Chairman, an important aspect of the project will be record keeping. Information on each animal will be properly recorded so that farmers can now the full history of its blood line. The pigs, which are currently being held at the Gladstone Road Agricultural Centre (GRAC), should be in Andros by early November, when the site that will house them should be completed.
The impetus behind the project, Mr Young explained, is to enable BAMSI to achieve its mission of supporting the Government’s push for food security, establishing the Institute as the agricultural data collection and training centre of the Bahamas, and also strengthen the quality of the Bahamian breed. Along with the establishment of the piggery, expected to be up and running by the end of the fourth quarter of 2022, BAMSI is also looking to grow its poultry division.
The announcement comes on the heels of a recently published article in the Nassau Guardian that reported the cost of eggs in local grocery stores will increase shortly due to the deaths of millions of egg-laying hens in the US as a result of an aggressive strain of bird flu. The article quoted Super Value owner Rupert Roberts who warned consumers that the cost of eggs could easily top $5.00 per carton.
“With BAMSI expanding its poultry division and also supporting farmers and entrepreneurs who want to get into the poultry business, we hope to mitigate these types of scenarios where the issues, constraints, problems being experienced within another country do not negatively impact the Bahamian consumer,” the Chairman said.
Plans are currently underway to increase the number of layers and also branch out into broilers, both of which will eventually feed into the Ministry of Agriculture’s chicks programme. The programme supported individuals interested in starting a poultry farm, with the Ministry providing baby chicks and other resources to entrepreneurs.
“Part of the programme will be a hatchery. We will be growing our own chicks to supply the local poultry market. This goes toward the Government’s goal of creating a sustainable poultry industry in the Bahamas. If we have the chicks and the eggs for these different farms then we will be developing and growing the industry,” he said.
The Institute has already begun the process of ordering its first batch of chicks for the layers programme, the Chairman reported, adding that the building structure for the birds has been completed. He further noted they are expecting to receive a shipment of specialty equipment shortly which will enable them to begin the process of outfitting the structure to facilitate the laying of eggs. It is anticipated that the project will be up and running by the end of October.
According to Mr Young, the poultry project will also serve as a source of revenue for the Institute, with BAMSI funneling any profits back into the programme. The long-term goal, he said, is to invest in Bahamian farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own poultry division.
“Initially, we expect to use the revenue gained from the poultry programme, with us selling the eggs and broilers to the public, to fund the project. Alongside that however, we intend to establish and training facility that will be open to the farming community in Andros in particular, but also to farmers across the Bahamas, on how to do proper poultry husbandry,” the Chairman said.
The information gleaned from the project will also be disseminated throughout the island and industry to help local farmers to mitigate most of the mistakes that new comers will make in order to give them a better chance of success in the long term.
“Ultimately, we want to focus on training, not competing with local farmers. As we train more farmers BAMSI will scale down to allow the local farmers have better chance to grow their revenue,” he said.
Leonardo Lightbourne, Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for BAMSI and MP for North Andros, said he was pleased to see the work that is going on in his constituency with BAMSI and that he is excited and enthused over the future of BAMSI and the development of the North Andros community.
“I must commend Chairman Young for steering BAMSI in a positive direction because the growth of the Institute; the launch of these agricultural projects, the research and data collection programme, the focus on increased training for staff and farmers, the drive to increase production on the farm – means more jobs, more experience, more revenue for the residents of North Andros. He is creating opportunity for a community that is particularly close to my heart,” he said.
Source: Yolanda Deleveaux