Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources Emergency Food Production PlanAuthored by:Hon. Michael C. Pintard, M.P.Source:Ministry of Agriculture and Marine ResourcesDate:March 30, 2020
Preamble: No one I know predicted this global calamity. The depth and length has already exceeded the predictions of the most astute commentators and experts. And today while for the short term food supplies are adequate it prudent to monitor closely the pressures that the supply chain is under. Government’s are contemplating reducing their export of key agriculture products given domestic demands. Vietnam, the third largest rice exporter, has restricted sales in light of concerns over domestic availability. Major global producers are now of lockdown and cargo transfers are slowing. We must prepare for what may emerge. Furthermore, we have an urgent need to diversify our economy to guard against external shocks such as this and to empower new categories of workers.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources (MAMR) has produced an Emergency Food Production Plan to strengthen food and nutrition security in this time of crisis. The Plan is based on the ‘Food Drum’ produced by the Ministry of Health which indicates the dietary intake of the major food groups. There are seven main groups: vegetables, fruit, grains/starchy vegetables, meat/dairy, fats, sugars and sweeteners and legumes/ (peas and beans). Additionally, the MAMR has identified fourteen sensitive product’s. These products were subject to import restrictions based on domestic production and due to their importance to the incomes of farmers, there are efforts to increase the production of these products. The Plan also used the most readily available information on the current distribution of the population which was the 2017 Election Boundary Report. The Report was used to determine the annual food needs of the population if there is a closure of the border for imports. An estimate of the volume of food needed is outlined in Annex I.
Mr. Speaker, please note that in order to accelerate food production, the focus needs to be on: (a) strengthening the production systems of existing farmers through the provision of inputs (seeds, guaranteed prices, feed and animals) on all islands with specific emphasis on North Andros, Abaco, Grand Bahama, Cat Island, Exuma and Eleuthera to increase production of targeted crops and livestock (b) making hydroponic systems and shade/greenhouses available to a range of producers including young farmers and backyard gardeners. The method is supremely efficient both in the use of water and in physical growing space. The use of water in hydroponic systems when compared to traditional farming creates a higher level of efficiency. With the use of shade/greenhouses, one (1) acre produces ten (10) acres of traditional farming methods, (c) establishing layer production units to targeted producers in all communities that would provide a source of protein. (d) re-establishing the Backyard Gardening Programme, (e) supporting Food Technology and Safety Laboratory to provide food processing training and advice on post-harvest storage of targeted crops since not all of the products targeted will meet fresh produce grade (f) strengthening the Feed Mill to provide livestock feed, (g) requesting the Ministry of Health's advice on nutritional value on targeted agricultural commodities, and (h) calculating guaranteed prices and cost for targeted commodities.
Mr. Speaker, additionally it is the intention of my ministry to assist farmers in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas by providing clearing of farm land beginning first in those islands devastated by Hurricane Dorian (Abaco and Grand Bahama) Mr. Speaker, we have plans to assist nineteen in Grand Bahama and forty on Abaco at a total cost of some four hundred and seventy-nine thousand six hundred dollars. The remaining funds allocated for this initiated will be shared with the other farmers throughout the Bahamas.
Mr. Speaker, also note that after consultation with industry stakeholders, several issues related to the fishing sector arose (a) while there may be a run on canned fisheries products such as tuna, mackerel, sardine, as well as luxury fishery products such as salmon and cod in Food Stores, fresh and frozen local fish will still be available to Bahamians, (b) Traditionally and culturally, many Bahamians consume fish during certain times of the year. Additionally, while fish may be available to residents its price may be prohibitive, which is and has been the view of consumers over the years mainly in New Providence.
Mr. Speaker, it is also my ministry’s intention to introduce a Fishers Marker similar to that of the Farmer Market.
In order to address the possibility of reduced imports, and to implement the strategy outlined in paragraph 2, it is recommended: (a) the purchase of three hundred and forty three (343) hydroponic systems at a cost of three hundred and forty three thousand dollars ($343,000.00), (b) the purchase of ten thousand (10,000) Backyard Gardening Kits at a cost of two hundred and forty thousand dollars ($240,000.00), (c) the intensification of production of roots and tubers, vegetables, legumes, fruits, and eggs (See Annex II) and (d) a program to intensify egg production estimated at $376,217.00.
This measure requires $ 1,626,939.70 million dollars.
Emergency Action Plan in Agriculture and Marine Resources
“Supply Chain Disruption has begun globally; Diversification is still a must”
- Provision of farm inputs (more than $400 K)
- a) Feeds b) Plants c) Animals d) feed e) etc
- Land clearing Initiative – 1 million dollars
- Provision of Fishing Inputs (more than 400K)
- a) Engines b) boat repair materials c) trap making materials
- Build capacity of family island farmers and fishers
- a) Packing houses b) storage facilities c) sea transit
- Statistical Strengthening
- Have determined the food items needed in its Food Basket and Farms part of its national food security
- In process of intensifying Import-substitution efforts
- Will set out to determine items needed – quantities & frequencies ten solidify agreements with purchasers
- In process of engaging with producer and buyers to work out production schedules
- Will strengthen national production incentive schemes
- Establish, strengthen partnerships that fix gaps, accelerate the process along the value chain including:
- Logistical issues
- Market connectivity
- SPS considerations
- Price gonging
- Hospital and Prison service locally
- No recreational fishing; No non- Bahamian Divers on commercial fishing vessels; no exceeding bag limits for permitted leisure travels.
- This pandemic underscores the futility of tribalism – poverty; non-communicable diseases; crime
- Creativity as a government and people given our unique circumstances of an archipelagic nation.
- Scarcity of resources to address to generational challenges (catastrophic)
To all my constituents you are in our prayers and thoughts and we will continue to help the most vulnerable in practical ways to reduce the burden and pressures on each of you. Keep the faith God will never leave us or forsake us;
This too shall pass.