NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) continues to build economic capacity with the recent engagement of a refrigeration transport container that will transform its post harvesting marketing protocols, reducing spoilage and wastage by 40 per cent or more and adding value and a longer shelf life to its fresh produce, a senior official said today.
Marketing Manager and head of BAMSI’s Distribution Centre Trevor MacKenzie, said the effects of the refrigeration container will be felt by consumers almost immediately.
“Tomatoes that are handled properly in the postharvest environment, you get extra shelf life out of them. The Bahamian consumer will probably get two to three weeks in the fridge and still have a firm product – had it been in the heat it would have softened within days instead of weeks.”
McKallan Stubbs, BAMSI’s farm administrator, said the use of the chilling system, a 40-foot refrigeration container with temperature control that can be transported from the field directly to the boat for shipping to New Providence, is part of BAMSI’s efforts to introduce industry best practices to its operations.
“Whenever you are dealing with produce everything is about preparation, refrigerate properly, handle properly, chilling properly,” Mr Stubbs said, adding, “this should save BAMSI a lot of money and improve the quality of produce that hits the market.”
The agricultural agency, which operates a research and tutorial farm in North Andros, ships produce on a weekly basis to New Providence primarily, and other islands, has committed to a new business model that will increase efficiencies, streamline operations, reduce wastage see steady economic growth realized. The new transportation system is expected to make a tremendous change because it impacts one of the core objectives of the Institute, increasing food security and reducing food imports.
Mr Stubbs explained the new refrigeration system will impact the Institution’s harvesting and processing protocols.
“What happened before is we would harvest the produce, it would sit in the sun till it was packaged for transport. It would be placed in coolers for transport to the boat. Once it got to the boat it might sit at the dock for a moment before being loaded in the refrigeration section. Once in Nassau, it was offloaded and back in the sun/heat again until it reached our distribution centre – and this happened regardless of the weather, in sunshine or rain – so by the time it arrived at the DC there was a lot of damage, spoilage.”
“In terms of loss, this refrigeration system could save up to 30 to 40 per cent, and in some cases even higher. This is BAMSI’s effort to introduce best practices and improve internal operations. Whenever you are dealing with produce everything is about preparation. Produce needs to be refrigerated properly, handled properly, and chilled at the right temperature and all of that requires pre-planning and preparedness,” he said.
BAMSI is expected to introduce a second refrigeration system to the rotation to ensure that all produce that requires it, can be placed in a chilling facility right away and be transported at the appropriate temperature.