Pintard: Min. of Agriculture making ‘steady progress’ in support for local produce

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard

NASSAU, BAHAMAS –  While the Ministry of Agriculture is still grappling with getting local wholesalers to sell mostly Bahamian-grown produce, Minister of  Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said his ministry is making ‘steady progress’ in this regard.

Pintard, who was speaking at a press conference Tuesday to announce the upcoming Agri-Business Expo, said his ministry is now seeking to get the Department of Agriculture, the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and the Bahamas Agriculture and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) to speak with one voice when it comes to approaching wholesalers, retailers, hoteliers and cruise ships, with the view of providing assistance to local producers.

“And so, we’re making steady progress in that regard,” Pinder said.

“We are not there yet to the credit of wholesalers in particular. And [as for] hotels, they’ve continued to purchase. The simple criteria is we have to be able to consistently supply products at a certain quality and a certain price point.”

Pintard also stated that under his direction, the goal of the ministry is to strengthen producer-consumer relations in order to avoid a breakdown of communication.

“The goal is to make sure that we all work in a collaborative way and directly expose the buyers, the wholesalers, and the retailers to what is available to buy.

“So, that’s whether you are carrying them to the actual site where the production is taking place or you are providing them consistently with information.”

Nonetheless, the minister said he remains hopeful that this process of unification will pay off in the end.

“We are optimistic that it is going to pay dividends in the long run,” Pintard said.

“Our goal is to help build the capacity of the farmers so they themselves can communicate with the end-user and that’s through the market, with the buyers, wholesalers, retailers, hoteliers, and cruise passengers. Apart of being able to do that is putting them in the same room.”

Former Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Renward Wells, met with major wholesalers last January, who agreed to purchase products locally once the goods met the mark.  The wholesalers present at that meeting were Milo Butler Distributors, AML Foods Limited, Bahamas Food Services (BFS), Budget Foods and Meats, Abaco Markets, Super Value Food Stores and Gold Cay Importers.

Now, after more than a year has passed, Pintard said forward movement will come once all stakeholders are on one accord.