#Nassau, September 26, 2019 – Bahamas – Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Hon. Michael Pintard said that the damage to the Agriculture and Marine Resources Industry in Grand Bahama and Abaco caused by Hurricane Dorian has been catastrophic.
In fact, he is convinced that the negative impact on the industry in Grand Bahama, from a preliminary assessment, rings to the tune of some $60 million in damages.
“The reality is the damage to the industry in Grand Bahama has been catastrophic and we are talking about a sector that was already under resourced,” said Minister Pintard.
A number of officials from the Bahamas Agriculture and Industry Corporation (BAIC) in Nassau visited Grand Bahama last week to get some idea of the impact hurricane Dorian had on the industry in the Second City.
Minister Pintard said his Ministry is working with a number of international agencies with a view of doing a careful assessment of the impact of Dorian on the sector. They are currently working with the Food and Agriculture Administration of the United Nations (FAO), along with the Agricultural arm of the Organization of American States and CARDI, which works in close association with CARICOM.
Their assessment will consider a number of aspects including, what impact did it have on the farmers and fishers themselves; how it impacted the roads, docks, packing houses, buildings, equipment, fish processing houses, tractors and more.
They will also consider the impact on the product directly.
“In other words, they will be looking at what crops were destroyed, what crops were adversely affected, so that we could get a realistic look at the magnitude of how the hurricane affected the sector,” said Minister Pintard.
“We know that clearly, this is well in excess of $60 Million damage within the sector with just the preliminary, rapid assessment, but we need a more detailed assessment. Then we must determine how much income will be foregone over the foreseeable future.”
Minister Pintard noted that in the absence of insurance, when a devastation like hurricane Dorian takes place, the farmers and fishers are often left to the goodwill of the government, and in this case, the international community.
This tragedy, he said, creates a greater urgency to have an insurance plan put in place, and it is something which farmers and fishers and the government will have to collaborate upon.
Aside from the aforementioned international agencies who have come in to assist, Minister Pintard added that the World Food Programme is in Grand Bahama, looking at ways in which to assist. He said that Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers from around the Caribbean and from throughout the Region have reached out to him to offer their help.
“We are confident that we are going to be able to remedy some of the challenges that our farmers and fishers have,” said Minister Pintard. “But this is not a short-term fix, so we have to be realistic in terms of the expectations that we create and we have to work in tandem with the stakeholders in the sector.
“It is important that the public, local and international, know that the Bahamas is an archipelago, so two important centres of commerce has been ravaged, but we have other islands that are engaged in agriculture and marine resources that are continuing, so the country is not closed for business, but it has been negatively affected.”
Minister Pintard added that this calamity gives The Bahamas an opportunity to consider climate smart solutions to the problems that may have plagued the country for a long time.
“This gives us an opportunity to hit the reset button,” said Pintard. “That means now we pay more attention to other aspects like aquaponics, hydroponics, where we have greenhouses that can withstand a category four or five hurricane.
“We need to do things that are climate smart. The technologies we choose, the places and manner in which we build, have to take into consideration the potential and future catastrophe similar to this one.”
By: Andrew Coakley
Photo Credit: ZNS