Local farmers welcome diverse agricultural imports

Bahamian produce. (Photo courtesy of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture)

While there may be farmers who aren’t keen on the idea of Haitian imports being introduced to the local Agricultural industry, there are some agriculturalists who are rallying behind Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis’ efforts to widen the variety of agricultural imports into the country.

Some, like Bahamian agricultural, Shomekhan Cargill, acknowledged that many Bahamian farmers feel as though the local industry is already under-supported but that excuse is growing old.

“Finding new sources of fruits and vegetables and other crops is not necessarily detrimental and I think its in many ways necessary and good because I am a strong proponent of regional integration; especially in the Caribbean,” said  Cargill. “So, I feel that food security and sustainable development is linked to having good relationship with our neighbors and especially a country like Haiti that could use fellowship rather than being constantly ostracized.”

Cargill reiterated that it should be expected that globalization will continue to introduce new ways of doing business. He also suggested that the Bahamas-Haiti agreement could be the doorway to other opportunities for Bahamians interested in farming.

“The is opportunity for people to move or maybe there can be a lateral movement in farming in other places where maybe labor would be cheaper and it could be an import-export with Bahamian ownership in other countries,” he said. “There is a lot of things that could possibly be done within the industry.”

But there is a long nine months before the Agreement kicks in on December 31. Meanwhile, Cargill suggests that those who oppose the idea of foreign imports and want to consider sustainable living options of their own get their hands dirty in a little backyard farming.

“Getting people more involved with the food they eat and the growing process is very important,” he said. “So small backyard gardens and urban agriculture; those are very important. I feel as if the idea of us trying to grow our own food is very good, but it requires an intimate understanding of agriculture as a whole and there are many sectors to that.”

Cargill suggests that young persons be proactive and take advantage of local agricultural programmes to be prepared for the future of the industry.

“If you want good plants, you need good seeds; and that speaks for where we need to go,” he said. “If we want future agriculturalists and if we want people to take on the many different roles within the agricultural sector you need to start from young. With the advent of BAMSI, we are going to need to fill those halls and push these kids now and find new ways for them to find appreciation for the field so that they know they can make a meaningful living from this career path.”

Interested persons are encouraged to reach out to the farmer’s association for tips on how to get a foot in the industry.