Statement by Michael Pintard, Bahamas Minister of Agriculture & Marine Resources
#Nassau, The Bahamas – From April 27, 2020 — Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the great Constituency of Marco City to which I have the honour to represent.
Mr. Speaker, The Cabinet of The Bahamas has determined that food production is especially crucial in these times. And that whatever measures we put in place must be sustained beyond Covid-19. We take seriously the mandate that has been given by the Prime Minister to fix outstanding issues that may exist along the entire value chain and supply chain to ensure that The Bahamas has adequate food resources and the right food resources for the health and wealth of our people.
Strengthening existing partners and working with stakeholders to reach common objectives will be critically important to weather this crisis. My Ministry continue to make ourselves available to hear the concerns of farmers and fishers and will be making deliberate efforts to use the available technology to reach out to farmers and fishers throughout the country.
Mister Speaker, the COVID-19 crisis is an important opportunity for Bahamians to make healthier food choices by increasing their consumption of fruit and vegetables. There has been unprecedented interest expressed in farming over the last few months. We are responding quickly and carefully. We are making every effort to make local products accessible and affordable.
- The Packing Houses remain operational in all our Family Island locations (Andros, Cat Island, Eleuthera, and Long Island). The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation continues to operate the Produce Exchange and The Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute has continued local produce purchases. Both agencies have reoriented their marketing to make ‘value boxes’ available to persons on New Providence who may be facing financial challenges and have instituted the social distancing protocols to protect employees and customers. Extended hours have been added on Saturday to facilitate essential workers.
Additionally, ‘The Market’ at Gladstone Road has also been opened to allow purchase of domestic agricultural products.
- Mr. Speaker, the long overdue renovations to packing houses in San Andros, North Andros, Clarence Town, Long Island, and Lower Bogue, Eleuthera will commence 1st May, 2020. Contracts have already been signed in the amount of four hundred fifty four thousand eight hundred and forty dollars ($454,840.00) to renovate the packing houses in the aforementioned islands.
- Mr. Speaker, the slaughter house in New Providence has been closed from the initial COVID-19 Emergency Order on March 23rd, 2020. The Government, in consultation with the relevant authorities is seeking a gradual opening of the abattoir to allow for the slaughter of animals. We anticipate that the abattoir will reopen on Tuesday 28th April, 2020. We will upgrade this facility as a matter of urgency. The growth of the livestock sector depends on a national slaughterhouse system throughout the relevant islands engaged in animal husbandry.
- The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Marine Resources have maintained essential services to farmers and fishers during the period by providing reduced hours to facilitate urgent matters including facilitating import and export permits. The Veterinary Services will be implementing telemedicine for livestock farmers on New Providence and the Family Islands. The information on the times and link for services will be posted on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources.
- Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources (MAMR) has also produced an Emergency Food Production Plan to strengthen food and nutrition security in this time of crisis. It includes the assistance to farmers in the clearing of Agricultural Land of which one million eighteen thousand six hundred dollars ($1,018,600.00) has been allocated to farmers throughout The Bahamas with four hundred seventy-nine thousand six hundred dollars ($479,600.00) out of the said figure being allocated to Grand Bahama and Abaco (those islands devastated by Hurricane Dorian). These funds have already been sent to the affected islands.
- Mr. Speaker, my Ministry is in the process of purchasing and distributing some ten thousand (10,000) backyard gardening kits throughout The Bahamas. The kits will include seeds, seedling, fertilizer, drip line, and pro-mix along with guidelines of how to arrange a proper backyard gardening system. The distribution of these kits should begin in two weeks.
- Mr. Speaker, our Ministry is sourcing more than one thousand (1000) hydroponic systems which will be strategically placed throughout The Bahamas to assist with producing adequate supplies of vegetables especially leafy greens. The MAMR in collaboration with the Ministry of Education is adding an additional 22 hydroponics systems to the previously agreed upon number of hydroponics and aquaponics systems which will be placed in schools throughout The Bahamas.
- Mr. Speaker, two thousand layer chicks have been purchased from a local vendor and will be distributed to the Family Islands as soon as this week. This will provide additional protein and encourage farmers in the various communities to produce eggs for their local economy. Additionally, some five thousand (5000) layers are on order from a company in the United Stated and would be available within the next three weeks for distribution to New Providence farmers. On receipt of these birds/layers, it is intended to purchase an additional 5000 to 7000 layers to assist farmers further. The MAMR has begun planning to work with the sector about urgently upgrading the available hatcheries so that we can in the short to medium term dramatically increase egg production throughout the Bahamas especially on New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco and Grand Bahama in phase one.
- The Ministry’s Food processing and Cooperative leadership in conjunction with BAIC and BAMSI and later with Home Economic Teachers and private enterprises will shortly lay out our plan to accelerate and scale up food processing and light manufacturing.
- Mr. Speaker, the Department of Marine Resources plays a pivotal role in the dietary consumption of seafood and the protection of our Marine Resources. During Hurricane Dorian, Marine Resources vessels were damaged/destroyed and we have already paid a 50% deposit of two hundred fifty-four thousand five hundred and twenty dollars ($254,520.00) for three vessels allocated for Bimini, Grand Bahama, and Abaco with which we expect to replace those vessels lost.
- Furthermore, we continue to discuss a plan of action to keep both subsistence and commercial fishers fully engaged in order to feed our nation and earn foreign currency. Discussions are underway to ensure the reopening of fish markets in a safe manner and the safe delivery of marine products to stores and customers.
- In addition, my Ministry is also in the process of partnering with the Ministry of Social Services, the Ministry of Health, The Ministry of National Security (Royal Bahamas Police Force), the Ministry of Transport and Local Government, the Ministry of Education and also food suppliers and wholesalers, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to launch the National Food Distribution Program to ensure, as the Prime Minister stated, that no vulnerable person is left behind.
Mr. Speaker, the program will target Senior Citizens and Disabled, Persons receiving Social Services Assistance, Students on the School Lunch Program and Furloughed Workers. Mr. Speaker, the distribution will include a number of dried goods but even more importantly Bahamian grown fruits and vegetables, Bahamian marine products, Bahamian jams, jellies, honey, Bahamian meats, Bahamian soaps, etc.
- Mr. Speaker in order to ensure that adequate animal feed and agriculture inputs are available to farmers in the various islands and that we reduce wastage in the movement of agriculture and marine products our Ministry is documenting available dry, cool and cold storage space.
- Since we last met we have begun to forge important partnerships upon which we will build. We are excited about the meetings held with church leaders about national and local agriculture projects we will work on together. We are encouraged by the initial meeting with the new generation of agro-youth professionals who are committed to the full incorporation of new technologies in all aspects of agriculture and marine resources. We intend to assist them in several key areas as they assist the sector. Our discussions with approximately 16 Agriculture educators resulted in several key commitments on both sides. I and the Ministry team have participated in more than two Ministerial meeting with Ministers throughout the region sharing best practices and plugging the data gap. We are in ongoing discussions with the leaders in the fishing and farming sector.
These are challenging times at a national and personal level for our entire nation. Constituents and staff members have lost loved ones and other staff, in every section of the ministry, (Department of Agriculture, Department of Marine Resources, Cooperatives, Regatta, BAIC, BAMSI, and BAHFSA), and despite these difficult circumstances show up to work daily and on weekends. I am indeed grateful to them and to the farmers and fishers throughout the archipelago for their dedication and support.
Thank you, Mister Speaker, for this opportunity to update the Honourable House.
Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis’ Remarks at the COP28 Green Climate Blue Co Launch
#TheBahamas, December 7, 2023 – We are here today because we are short on time and even shorter on the resources needed to empower every nation in the world to respond to an increasingly dire climate crisis.
We are approaching the tipping point from which there will be no return. At our current rate, the world will cross the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold sometime within the next two decades.
The window of opportunity is closing.
But it is not closed yet.
And as long as there is even a small opening, just a sliver of time left for us to take action, there is still hope that we can save the world from the worst-case climate change scenarios.
I’ve travelled the globe representing Small Island Developing States like mine which have contributed the least to global carbon emissions but are already experiencing the worst effects of climate change.
Global inaction will soon threaten our continued existence as nations, but we will do everything within our power to avoid this outcome.
The Bahamas is here this week at COP 28 to invite the people of the world to partner with us and all vulnerable states to face this existential threat together.
As a region, the Caribbean has seen the results of our advocacy take shape in the form of the Loss and Damage fund to help us recover from the destruction already wrought on our nations. And we will continue to push for greater access to financing opportunities as we seek to protect our shorelines, build climate-resilient infrastructure, and invest in a renewable and sustainable future.
Through collaborative action, we will also create new industries and generate demand for novel solutions. Solving the world’s most pressing problems has always been good for business. We are entering an era of socially responsible investments, regenerative financing, and ESG finance. And the Caribbean is prepared to lead the way. In fact, if we want to continue to thrive as a region, we have no choice but to lead the way.
My country has been hit by four major hurricanes over the past few years. Over a third of our national debt is directly linked to the impact of storms, causing billions in damages that threaten the economic and fiscal health of our nation and people. With the situation projected to worsen at its current rate, we have gone all-in on making the necessary investments to solve our climate woes. Our future as a nation depends on it.
So, today, I applaud the Green Climate Fund for its efforts to support the developing world in creating climate-resilient pathways to a sustainable future. This is life-saving work.
With the approval of the application for preparation funds to finance the development of the Blue Co Caribbean Umbrella Coordination Programme, we fully expect to see new, effective solutions emerge for the people of the Caribbean.
The Blue Co Caribbean project will provide the foundation for strategic investments at a scale not possible without embracing the spirit of cooperation and co-investment through this Caribbean-targeted, climate-focused investment opportunity.
Through this platform, Caribbean nations will be empowered to strengthen their blue economy frameworks and develop data-backed projects that can then be replicated and scaled across the region. My nation, as one of the world leaders in the research and development of blue carbon credits as a viable source of revenue generation, looks forward to the ways that Blue Co will strengthen The Bahamas’ mission to develop home-grown solutions that can fund a climate-resilient future for our people.
It turns out that saving the world isn’t just good for people, it’s also good for business.
Just yesterday, we were privileged to host a discussion on the Bahamas Sustainable Investment Programme, which will generate up to $500 million for climate-related investments. This is a testament to our commitment and resolve to generate our own innovative solutions to the climate crisis. And we are by no means standing alone.
Within the Caribbean, we have the passion, motivation, and expertise to drive the success of this initiative. There is no doubt in my mind that Blue Co can and will serve as a model for other regions to follow.
I invite all interested parties to reach out, get involved, and together we will save countless lives and livelihoods on our way to building a more resilient, renewable, and prosperous future for all nations.
Bahamas Joins U.S. Embassy Test of Emergency Response
The exercise illustrated excellent coordination between the Embassy, Royal Bahamas Police Force, and Royal Bahamas Defence Force. During the exercise, the security partners practiced responding to a hostile attack on the Embassy. In addition to testing communications between partners, the exercise included mock arrests, the evacuation of Embassy staff, and emergency medical services to “injured” civilians.
These emergency preparedness exercises help evaluate the Embassy’s ability to protect its staff and installations during an emergency. We want to thank our Bahamian partners for participating in the exercise and supporting emergency preparedness. As our American founding father Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.”
1st insert: The Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team joins the RBDF as it searches for suspects along Queen Street in an emergency preparedness exercise held on Tuesday, November 21.
2nd insert: The Royal Bahamas Defence Force conducts a sweep of Queen Street as a part of the U.S. Embassy emergency response drill.
3rd insert: A U.S. marine detains a gunman in a mock exercise held on Tuesday, November 21.
Ashley Albury Marks A World YWCA First
#TheBahamas, December 5, 2023 – For the first time in the global movement’s 168-year-old history, a Bahamian will serve on the World YWCA Board headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Ashley Albury, 25, was elected as a board member during the 30th World YWCA Council Meeting held this week.
Executive Director of the Young Women’s Christian Association of The Bahamas (YWCA Bahamas), Rosalie Fawkes, described the occasion as a “red-letter day” for the organization.
“I sincerely thank all of the YWCA women who have played a role in mentoring and supporting Ashley’s candidacy and we wish her well as she embraces this new opportunity for growth and development. May this occasion mark a renewed effort to continue building the membership and participation of our youthful population,” said Ms. Fawkes.
On the World YWCA Board as the second Caribbean representative is Adrianna Sosa from Haiti. Adrianna also made history four years ago when at the age of 19, she became the youngest member ever to be elected to the World Board. Today she is running as a candidate for World YWCA Vice President.
It was in 2015 that Ashley wrote via Facebook to YWCA Bahamas inquiring about its program offerings. That simple act eventually led to an active involvement in the life of the YWCA.
Ms. Fawkes added, “Ashley has successfully navigated the world of technology for the association; constructed our website – www.ywcabahamas.org; established a YWCA Collegiate Chapter at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI); used her graphic design skills in newsletter preparation; served on the YWCA’s Board of Management; built an archives and storage drop box in the clouds; became a faithful member of the YWCA’s Bible Study and Fellowship Group and recently joined the finance team at the YWCA – and all of this while continuing to further her education.”
Ashley said, “Being elected to the YWCA World Board as a Caribbean representative from The Bahamas fills me with immense pride and a deep sense of duty. This role is more than a position; it is a pledge to elevate and empower women and girls not just in the region but across the world. The unique perspectives and vibrant cultures of elected members will contribute significantly to the achievement of the YWCA’s mission and vision.”
She continued, “I appreciate YWCA Bahamas for nominating me and voting delegates for seeing me as a well-suited nominee. This is an opportunity to make a meaningful impact and to represent the vibrant spirit and resilience of the Young Women’s Christian Association of The Bahamas.”
Header: Ashley Albury, 25, is the first Bahamian elected to serve on the World YWCA Board.
Insert: Pictured are past and current board members of the Young Women’s Christian Association of The Bahamas (YWCA Bahamas). YWCA Bahamas Executive Director Rosalie Fawkes is seated in the center and Ashley Albury is standing at the far right.
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