BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — In keeping with the mission of the government of The Bahamas to expand economic diversification and support the development of new sectors, The Bahamas has recently become a beneficiary of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries) Trade Capacity Building TradeComm II Programme under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
The objectives of the ACP-EU Trade Comm II Programme are to reduce poverty, improve sustainable economic development and encourage regional integration through capacity-building programmes in ACP countries. The programme aims to strengthen trade-related infrastructure by partnering with national and regional organizations to diversify the economy through agriculture and the private sector.
The Bahamas does not have a National Indicative Programme, a detailed planning document prepared by countries seeking EU programming support for industries of national priority under the 11th EDF. However, according to H E Maria O’Brien, ambassador extraordinaire and plenipotentiary of The Bahamas to the Kingdom of Belgium and head of mission to the European Union (EU), the country is still able to access regional and thematics programmes that support industries considered critical for economic diversification and sustainable job creation.
The Mission in Brussels, led by O’Brien, identified two facilities from the ACP-EU TradeComm II Programme for which The Bahamas was eligible under the 10th and 11th EDF: the Technical Assistance (TA) Component and the Grant Component.
The TA Component allows Bahamian companies to compete in the European Commission tender process and allows approved services to be procured directly under the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) while the Grant Component provides direct funding beneficiaries.
Under the TradeComm II RRF, the EU-approved technical assistance for two projects for the Bahamas Development Bank that aim to improve food security and food quality while stimulating local economies, creating employment and supporting livelihoods on Long Island and New Providence.
The Small Ruminant Revitalization Programme on Long Island provides technical support for established and new farmers to develop business models that modernize and increase productivity in small ruminant farming, including small-scale sheep, goat and pig farming. It is being developed to expand to other Family Islands. The programme, led by Dr Ashton Stanley, head of the ruminant programme at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), and Dr Keith Cox, is a multi-agency collaboration that includes BAMSI, a unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources and the regional body, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
The Community Poultry Programme on New Providence provides technical support to help small farmers on New Providence and the Family Islands develop productive poultry farming business models. The programme’s objective is to create new revenue streams for small farmers, reduce imports and deliver fresh, all-natural, antibiotics and hormone-free poultry to local communities. The project will be led by two Bahamian poultry experts: Justin Taylor and Dr Jason Sands.
In addition, O’Brien formed new relations with COLEACP, an EU-supported association of companies and experts committed to reducing poverty, improving food security and food safety and strengthening the agri-food export sector in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. COLECAP is also focused on building the competitiveness and sustainability of the horticultural industry in these countries.
The first-time membership to COLEACP for The Bahamas included the Bahamas Development Bank and BAMSI. COLEACP Fit for Market programme will help smallholders, farmer groups and SMEs to access international and domestic horticultural markets by providing the technical support to bring them in compliance with market and sanitary phytosanitary (SPS) requirements. The adoption of new practices by farmers will not only facilitate market access, but will help farmers run a more efficient, proficient and resilient business.
O’Brien said: “It is more important than ever for The Bahamas to nurture partnerships which enable access to funding and technical training that can support economic diversification.
“The Mission in Brussels is proud to play a key role in building regional and direct EU relationships that build a path to sustainable and inclusive growth while improving our food security and increasing the capacity of those in the agricultural industry. Our goal is to help local agencies create value across the agricultural value chain — from farm to table.”