A group of farmers and entrepreneurs of the agriculture sector around the islands met with the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Affairs, the Hon. Clay Sweeting during a Quarterly Virtual Meeting held on Monday, May 22, 2023. Also in attendance were Executive Chair of Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), Senator the Hon. Tyrel Young; and Executive Chair of Bahamas Health Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA), Dr. Patricia Symonette.
Minister Sweeting welcomed the farmers and his colleagues to the meeting and also took a moment to congratulate the recent graduates of BAMSI. He said that the past two years have been ‘very exciting’ for the country.
“We have taken great strides in agriculture over the past two years,” he said. “We wish to continue to advance our efforts and look forward to seeing what is allocated in the upcoming budget.”
Executive Chair of BAMSI, Senator the Hon. Tyrel Young gave a brief overview of efforts at the institute and opened the floor to discussions. “I wish to thank everyone for attending. We are happy to be able to continue with this type of dialogue with farmers.”
Executive Chair of BAHFSA, Dr. Patty Symonette discussed the role that BAHFSA plays and said that food safety begins at the production line, therefore, efforts must continue to improve food safety and public health, and to support farmers via education and awareness.
Director of the Cooperative Office in the Department of Cooperative Development, Leon Rahming also addressed the forum and spoke on the topic “Cooperative Societies.” He gave the farmers an overview of cooperatives and discussed steps to creating a cooperative, which would enable them to help themselves and each other.
Some of the issues raised during the meeting included: accessibility and issuance of grants, (which Minister Sweeting said would continue in the upcoming budget); assistance for land-clearing; safety of imported food; availability of chicks to farmers (which Minister Sweeting said is still ongoing, however distribution is subject to registration with the Ministry).
Senator Young also responded to a question concerning the opening date for the BAMSI building in South Andros. He said currently, they are awaiting approvals from the various government agencies before the building could be opened. He told the farmers that the date for opening is tentatively set for sometime in June of this year.
The Ministry will meet again with farmers at the next Quarterly Virtual Meeting.