Written by 6:51 pm Food

Sweeting seeking to push local poultry production

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Clay Sweeting said the federal government is seeking to increase poultry production in The Bahamas to lower the country’s exorbitant import bill.

 Currently, the country’s food import bill is pegged around $1 billion.

“Poultry is considered one of those ways where we predict that we will try this,” said Sweeting. 

“Jamaica has done a superb job within the poultry industry and now Guyana is one which is following suit.  We are attempting to have a look at some quick wins for The Bahamas. Within the 90s, poultry was a contributing factor to the sector especially in Eleuthera, where we had a chicken farm within the 70s. Egg production in addition to broilers are ways in which we’re taking a look at making dents in agricultural food imports and hopefully these will probably be quick wins where we will get individuals involved.”

Sweeting noted that there are various islands where poultry farming is popular, akin to in Abaco where Abaco Big Bird has made significant gains.

 He added that the Davis administration is in search of ways to boost poultry farming through incentives. 

“My view and vision is to encourage and enhance and to get a correct policy decision with the federal government where we will encourage farmers on this sector.  I feel that we as a rustic and as a ministry might help enhance the sector whether or not it’s by concessions or other avenues,” Sweeting said.

“We’ve got spoken to firms like Jamaican Broilers and we’re imagined to meet with Caribbean Broilers where they might help us to assist Bahamians who need to become involved within the sector and who are actually wanting to expand. We’ve got spoken with Abaco Big Bird as to how we, as a government, can support them. For essentially the most part, it’s supporting the farmers where we’ve got lacked over the previous few many years.”      

Sweeting said that currently the ministry is seeking to hire extension officers to supply more certifications for farmers.

“We’re going to bring on technical individuals like extension officers who might help give farming expertise and train professionals to assist facilitate where they’ve gaps for production,” Sweeting said.

“We do have a health and safety department within the Department of Agriculture called Bahamas Agricultural Health and Secure Authority and the identical with fisheries. Bahamians – despite the fact that they need to buy local – they need to buy something that’s suitable for eating. We want to structure that in order that farmers have certifications nationally and internationally in order that if we desired to export, we will. We spoke to farmers who need to be brought as much as standards and wish to know what the usual is.”

Sweeting said that the Ministry can be continuing to work with the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) to proceed to boost feed mills around The Bahamas.

“To ensure that poultry or any livestock to achieve success, proper feed is a priority so we’re still working with BAIC who has carriage over the feed mill to place together a correct plan in order that ultimately individuals who need to become involved in that a part of the sector won’t   have the priority of whether or not they should purchase feed. Feed is the backbone of our industry and we hope that in just a few months, we can have that ironed out as well,” he said.

This week, Sweeting met with several poultry farmers, where he acknowledged that poultry production is taken into account costly.

Nonetheless, he said the production of poultry can assist greatly in strengthening the economy.

“I do understand that poultry production can be slightly more costly to farmers than importing. But if you have a look at creating opportunities and creating jobs and inspiring youth and ladies to become involved within the sector, we as a government must find ways to help farmers,” Sweeting said.  

“It might probably be really lucrative. One farmer I spoke to is selling eggs at $3 a carton and the food stores are selling them at $6. We just need to get individuals involved and really sell the concept of poultry production.”

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