Writer: Yolanda Deleveaux
NEWLY APPOINTED President of the Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) Senator The Honorable Dr. Erecia Hepburn on Tuesday paid a courtesy call to Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Obie Wilchcombe where she discussed BAMSI becoming an authorised vendor of the ministry’s Food Assistance (voucher) programme. The move would provide marginalized individuals and communities greater access to fruits and vegetables.
As a vendor, programme participants will be able to use their vouchers to purchase BAMSI’s $20 produce box. The Institute also intends to redistribute and channel foods where there may be a surplus for reduced sale/donation to the ministry and its clients.
Dr. Hepburn used the opportunity of the courtesy call to also discuss BAMSI’s focus on food security, highlighting a number of upcoming initiatives the Institute is set to launch which will impact the country’s burdensome food import bill over the long term. The goal, she said, “is to provide more Bahamians with equitable access to quality, locally grown, healthy foods.”
She pointed out that as a ministry that works closely with underprivileged women, children and families who require the support of the Government to live and exist in oftentimes the most basic ways, BAMSI saw the importance of partnering with them specifically in regard to their feeding programmes and also from an academic standpoint. Courses in backyard farming, landscaping, aquaponics are all programmes that can help persons transition into the role of an entrepreneur and also show families how to feed themselves.
She further outlined the unique position that BAMSI holds as the only tertiary institution in the country that focuses exclusively on agriculture, marine science and related fields. Through the government school systems, after school programmes, clubs and volunteer opportunities, the young clients of Social Services can also be provided with skills that can unlock the door for their academic journey, providing training and education in important areas. It is the President’s hope that persons on the school feeding program will also have access of BAMSI’s produce as an option in their meal packets and that the partnership with Social Services is one that will be fruitful and productive.