Govt. will reduce food imports, says DPM

Govt. will reduce food imports, says DPM
Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest speaks to Eyewitness News reporter Theo Sealy at the Agri-Business Expo on Friday.

The government intends to drastically decrease the amount of agricultural imports to the country by “growing, processing, marketing and exporting our own food”, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest revealed Friday at the opening of the 2018 Agri-Business Expo.

The three-day event is being hosted at the Gladstone Road Agricultural Complex.

Government statistics indicate that The Bahamas currently imports 92 per cent of its agricultural food products from overseas.

The deputy prime minister confirmed yesterday that the government is committed to put a dent in the number.

“Government’s long-term goal is to drastically reduce our reliance on imports,” Turnquest said.

“We want to see farming communities in our country prosper and grow to be able to contribute even more to our national economy.”

Turnquest noted that the government has already taken steps to improve the mailboat service between the capital and Family Islands, which he said, will open the door for better transportation of goods between all islands.

He said that the government is also assessing packaging house operations to ensure that it is able to meet the modernized demand of the market.

“I am also happy to announce that the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources is taking steps to streamline its agencies so that responsibilities are properly assigned in compliance with the legal framework,” he said.

“I look forward to the improvements that will accrue from our expected advances in product development, research and technology, that will cause us to be able to expand our processing capacity. In order to create the conditions for lasting food and nutrition security, we must ensure a sustainable planned food programme.”

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Renward Wells echoed the deputy prime minister’s sentiments.

“We must encourage potential agribusiness entrepreneurs, raise the level of appreciation form Bahamian-grown and processed products and commodities, while ensuring that essential linkages are made between the agriculture, education, marine resources and tourism sectors,” Wells said.

“This expo provides an opportunity for them to showcase the agricultural products they have tended and grown. I also believe that this expo will significantly contribute to us achieving these goals.”