Pintard: New policy to mandate investors buy local food

Pintard: New policy to mandate investors buy local food
Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government has made a policy determination that persons looking to invest in The Bahamas must purchase 40 percent of all the food they intend to utilize for their operations from local farmers and fishers, Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard.

Pintard said the policy will ensure market access for local producers, and will be included in the Heads of Agreement (HOA).

“What is certain is that the government has to send to the private sector from a policy standpoint several key signals. We have made those determinations in order to ensure that producers have market access,” said Pintard while addressing the Eleuthera Business Outlook.

Pintard also noted that government has taken a similar expectation regarding persons importing food, namely restaurants, hotels, food stores, wholesalers and cruise ships.

“Government funds spent on food, 75 percent of all monies spent by the Bahamian government going forward will first be spent on locally produced items before purchasing from other sources,” he said.

“The caveat of course is that we must be producing global quality which we have demonstrated that we can, we must do so in a sustainable and consistent manner and the price must make sense. We are now fixing the gaps along our value chain from farm to fork. We are fixing those gaps to ensure that now that we are creating market access we are doing the things required to ensure that we can consistently produce.”

Pintard noted that over the past 15 years local agriculture production has contracted.

“For some items it’s been 14 percent and for others it’s been less. Our present food bill is approximately $600 million,” said Pintard, noting that adding the cost of processed foods to that number takes the country’s food import bill to $1 billion annually.

“We have the capacity to do better and must do better,” said Pintard.

6 comments

The price have to make sense if not it will not happen. Many of our locally grown produce are over priced and we as Bahamian would like to buy but simply can’t afford.

All this talk concerning food, The fact of the matter is, You can’t walk In th produce area of any Food Market, and see these products on display, why is this so distanced.?

You Think after 47 years of being a developing nation we just realizing we need to mandate buy locally. This should have done 40 years ago every other country that has a successful agriculture industry has done it. I say its about time…

You can triple that food price for the locals if they make this rule. Obviously they have not bothered to review the “Law of Supply and Demand”?

If it is done properly, the duty & VAT on “locally” produce supplies from other countries would be outrageously high but the locally grown items would be guaranteed fresh upon delivery (even by mail boat that had to sit at Port due to weather for an extra week with lettuce and tomato, maybe some herbs too, in a refrigerated cooler going bad), cost inexpensive, and superb quality. The government seemingly does not do anything properly so that is not going to happen.

Having been in the food business for years this is a problem. If Bahamian farmers are producing graded, cleaned and boxed product that can be shipped to the islands with quality control and good pricing it could possibly work. Looking back on my many years in the grocery business this was our experience:
– unclean, ungraded and not mature products with high pricing
– mangos from Long Island with no boxes or shipping to islands
– chicken four times the price of imported chicken not to mention the hormones in the product
– use of herbicides and pest asides

If farmers produce great product with fair pricing then no one would be upset when purchasing the local products but in the past you were forced to purchase local products regardless of price and quality.
Could we not look at the possibly of trying a few items that can be produced, packed and shipped to islands at a fair price.
If farmers know that their products will only be sold if they meet the standards set by the Ministery of Agriculture.

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