PM Outlines Plans For BAMSI

Friday, 16 June 2017 07:33 News Editor
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The government’s plans for the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) will enable the Andros facility to focus on the production of select quality products for local and export markets, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Minnis pointed out that food production plays a crucial role in the success of the tourism industry.

“We will privatize the produce exchange and will provide land, supplies, equipment and business services to Bahamian farmers to support the industry,” said Minnis, while speaking at the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association Board of Directors and Membership Meeting at the Hilton hotel on Thursday.

“Tax incentives and concessions will be introduced to encourage Bahamian farmers and farming cooperatives throughout the country to promote sustained production and packaging initiatives, and to ensure the continuous supply of quality products.”

Minnis said,”A critical success factor in tourism is the more affordable delivery of goods and services, especially in the areas of food production, distribution and service.

“We are intent on boosting the farming and use of native fruits.

“My administration must implement a plan that will actually achieve the long, sought-after goal of creating linkages between agriculture and tourism to effect a significant reduction in the food import bill of hotels and restaurants.”

In its 2017 manifesto, the Free National Movement (FNM) pledged it would “legislate policy to establish, equip and appropriately staff BAMSI to function as a National Agriculture and Fisheries Research Institute (NAFRI) under the auspices of the University of The Bahamas”.

BAMSI was a key program established by the Christie administration but it was hugely controversial.

As of October 2014, the investment in BAMSI had reached $23 million, according to the Christie administration.

Whether it has managed to reduce The Bahamas’ reliance on food imports and by what margin remains unknown.

The Bahamas imports more than $1 billion worth of food every year.

In February, the Free National Movement said it would implement a strategic plan to enable BAMSI to focus on the production of quality products for the local and export markets, and provide tax incentives and concessions to encourage Bahamian farmers and farming cooperatives throughout the country to promote sustained production and packaging to ensure a continuous supply of quality products to customers.

In opposition, the FNM said while it is committed to ensuring food security in The Bahamas and reducing the high import bill for food and other products that service Bahamian and international guests, it would not “rubber stamp a blank check for the PLP given their bad stewardship and credibility”.

Jayme Pinder
The Nassau Guardian
Published: June 16, 2017