NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamians can grow at least 30 percent of what they consume in their own backyard, according to a local agriculturalist, who suggested that policies be implemented to encourage greater local production and local consumption.
Dion Gibson, owner and operator of Gibby da Farma Backyard Gardens, told the Rotary Club of West Nassau yesterday that farming is an extremely costly endeavour, with many farmers unable to pay themselves a salary.
He also opined that the mindset towards farming has shifted significantly over the years.
“We have to really push and support local farmers, Gibson said.
“I know right now it’s a bit of a fad. A lot of people want to get into farming but farming isn’t easy, it’s a lot of work. It’s not super profitable as some may think. The cost of operation is very high.
“You can do things to help and bring your cost down but at the end of the day you still need to hire people. Many farmers don’t even pay themselves a salary but they have to pay their staff a salary,” said Gibson.
He added: “Land clearing is not cheap. The government assists with land clearing but there is only so much the government can do. Private sector support is needed. At present there are insufficient government subsidies.
“I think the government realizes that and is looking to amended that. We also have to bring in feed from the United States and other places. COVID-19 is putting a pinch on that. Yes, the government is helping farmers but not every farmer gets their feed through them. Nonetheless this had a tremendous impact on the production of food.”
Gibson noted that among the other challenges facing local farmers was cheaper imports being bought and sold by local wholesalers. Gibson suggested that social responsibility must also come into play.
He also suggested that food sovereignty can be established by creating agricultural independence on each island.
“We have a lot of Bahamian farmers that produce a lot of stuff. We don’t produce everything but we produce a lot of what we need and a lot of what we need we can grow,” said Gibson.
He added: “We could grow at least 30 per cent of what we eat in our backyard.”
Gibson also called for more cohesion among local producers.
“We have a lot of farmers who are producing the same things and there ends up being a glut,” he said.
“There has to be cohesion. We have quality produce but that quality is not sustained. We have to educate farmers on fine tuning their methods and practices to aid in national food security. We need policy reform.
Gibson added: “How do we get policies that encourage local production and encourage the purchase of crops produced locally?”