Govt. to increase credit funding access for agriculture stakeholders

Govt. to increase credit funding access for agriculture stakeholders
Bahamian produce. (Photo courtesy of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As a “matter of urgency” the government will increase access to credit funding for farmers and those in the agricultural sector, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

The prime minister made the announcement during a national address last night, the first of three planned installments.

He also said the government will provide agricultural producers with greater access to local and international markets.

“We will promote Family Island and rural development with the same intensity and focus that have been historically applied to New Providence and Grand Bahama,” he said.

“This year, we will roll out several key agriculture investment projects in this sector on several islands, especially Andros, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama.

“We will invest in strengthening agriculture infrastructure inclusive of farm feed roads and facilitating access to power and water in farming.

“We are equally committed to developing an integrated agriculture eco-system where farmers will have access to insurance, and access to cost-effective inter-island transportation inclusive of refrigeration.”

Last year, farmers claimed the Minnis administration neglected them as they sought $60 million in hurricane relief funds, insisting Hurricane Matthew dealt a severe blow to the farming community, which has yet to rebound.

However, the government assessed that figure at closer to $2 million.

There are around 1,500 registered farmers in The Bahamas.

Two-hundred of them operate on New Providence.

In each case, these farmers operate on leased on granted Crown land.

Dr. Minnis did not provide details last night on the funding mechanisms that he said will be made available to those in the agricultural sector.

According to Dr. Minnis, the owners of Bahamas Striping Group of Companies is expected to develop poultry farms and processing plans on North Andros and Eleuthera.

The project is also expected to include a distribution centre in New Providence.

Additionally, the prime minister said the government is exploring a possible transhipment port in Mayaguana, which he said will make the port in Grand Bahama “even stronger”.