LONG ISLAND, BAHAMAS — The Long Island Small Ruminants Revitalization Programme (SRRP), developed by the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB), has received a boost with a $40,000 grant from the European Union’s ACP TradeCom II Programme to hire two consultants for the project — Dr Ashton Stanley and Dr Keith Cox, who are tasked with refining the business model.
Local ruminant (sheep and goat) farmers from various settlements ranging from Burnt Ground in the north to Clarence Town in the south were recently invited to a stakeholder meeting where they were able to voice their concerns and gain valuable insight into the SRRP.
During this trip, the team also visited many farmers to conduct interviews and site assessments. The information gathered will be used to prepare financing models for the planned abattoir (slaughterhouse) and fattening facilities. These facilities would provide the infrastructure necessary to fully invigorate the ruminant industry.
It is expected that the farmers themselves would form a cooperative to operate the facilities after receiving extensive training. The cooperative could also facilitate increased access to supplies and feed at a reasonable cost for other farmers on the island.
On an individual basis, BDB will provide specially tailored loans for farmers to improve their farming capacities. This would ensure that the abattoir and fattening facilities receive an adequate supply of weaned animals to meet market demands. The completion of these facilities would completely modernize the industry while producing extensive returns.
Individually, farmers would build unique housing structures to shelter goats from the elements, thus improving their health. As a climate change adaptation measure, these housing structures will be elevated to protect the animals during flooding. The fattening facility would allow farmers to shorten the average weaning time, thus giving the breeders a quicker turnover time for newborns and ultimately increasing production over time. The abattoir would ensure food safety, precise cuts and the eventual national exportation of branded, Long Island-produced mutton.
All of the above is aligned with the bank’s goals for this program: to offer youth on Family Islands an opportunity for employment in their own communities, dispersing wealth via new businesses and making a marginal step toward food security.
There are four major interconnected components within this program:
- Education and training. Technical training, support and supervision during the initial years of the program, supported by CARDI and the Department of Agriculture.
- Establishing program participants and their roles. Ensures complete value chain connectivity.
- Government support. Providing operational support, policy setting and strengthening institutions.
- Access to funding. Affordable BDB loans offered after the completion of training.
After the final results and financial models have been produced by the consultants, the team will return to Long Island to discuss the way forward with the farmers and all other stakeholders. All parties involved are excitedly awaiting the evolution of this new chapter in invigorating the economy of Long Island.