NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philip Davis said yesterday that his administration’s goal is to scale back this nation’s food imports by 25 percent by 2025.
The pime minister made the pledge during his wrap-up to the budget debate yesterday.
He said: “We’re investing $100 million into agriculture to be certain that The Bahamas takes steps toward decreasing its reliance on food imports.”
Davis noted that $1.5 million of that budget is specifically allocated toward “technologies, training, and capability constructing related to food security.”
He continued: “We’re also providing $500,000 in grants to farmers and a further $1 million-plus in funding to secure broilers and to support livestock farming. On our islands where farming is difficult, we’re exploring using container farms. Duty reductions on engines and parts will help the fishing industry.”
Davis added: “We’re also constructing a Cultivation Centre to modernize training, programs, and sales – in order that our farmers and entrepreneurs have support and access to innovations. That is the first step in a plan which is able to include adding Centres on Family Islands, which is able to encompass a Produce Exchange, a Fish & Farm store, and a Food Processing Community Kitchen.”
The Prime Minister also identified that the federal government can also be making substantial investments in BAMSI, noting that consecutive years of high-priority investments within the agricultural sector is the one option to increase this nation’s food security.
Davis noted that because Russia and Ukraine are each major agricultural exporters, especially of grain, food prices are “through the roof” due to disruptions attributable to the war.
“Even before the war, prices were going up because of pandemic related shipping woes and the rising cost of fuel. Bahamians are finding that they need to retreat from the checkout line and return items from their shopping cart. Some Bahamians – far too many – are finding it increasingly difficult to eat healthy, regular meals. Dollars don’t appear to stretch so far as they used to, and this has only compounded the struggles many families were already experiencing throughout our archipelago,” said Davis.
He continued, “The fact is that The Bahamas already had too high a price of living prior to the pandemic, so this wave of worldwide inflation has hit us especially hard. Because of this our budget allocates resources to specifically help Bahamians address the inflation crisis. We now have lowered the customs duty on many items in our grocery stores – eggs, chicken, flour, cheese, corn, prepared meats, and an enormous range of healthy vegetables have now had their associated customs duties decreased significantly or are completely duty free.”