NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard said yesterday that over the short to medium term this nation has the potential to produce some $200 million worth of product to cut into this nation’s food import bill.
During his contribution to the 2020/2021 budget debate yesterday, Pintard noted that studies by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have identified some 77 agricultural items which can be produced locally.
“One of the clear indications from the studies we have conducted is that we have the potential out of the $600 million we are spending every year on fresh food we have the potential to save substantially on our imports. I share the view that import substitution is not enough but it is important for us to grow and produce those items which we have the ability to produce,” said Pintard.
He said: “ It is clear to clear to us based on studies by the IDB that we do have the capacity to produce, cost effectively, by global standards in a sustainable and consistent manner roughly $200 million worth of product.
“When we invest in this sector by increasing the allocation to agriculture over the years to come and the practitioners invest in the sector, we have the potential to substitute over the short to medium term some $200 million.”
Pintard stressed that the economic base of the country cannot continue to stand on tourism and financial services, adding that the agriculture and fisheries sectors present an opportunity for greater economic diversification.