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Bahamas gets Update on the Emergency Food Plan

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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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Mister Speaker,

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.

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GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President

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Re:  GBPA’s Response to fire in the International Bazaar

 

#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority is aware of the recent fire at the International Bazaar.

The GBPA has engaged, and continues to engage, with operators of the International Bazaar, which include representatives of the Bazaar Association and several property owners, so that we can continue demolition exercises on the dilapidated structures and buildings.

The GBPA is acutely aware of the need to demolish derelict structures within the International Bazaar for the safety of all businesses and visitors. We have performed demolitions in the past at our own cost, most recently in February 2022 when we, in partnership with owners, demolished fire-damaged buildings in the Oriental Section. We have also written to numerous property owners of dilapidated structures over the years to sensitize them to the need to repair or demolish their buildings.

In addition, we have engaged the Government of the Bahamas in advance discussions to approve our requested amendments of the Building and Sanitary bylaws, which would enable GBPA to execute more demolitions in a timely manner and recoup the associated costs.

With the requested bylaw amendments in place, GBPA can continue to make consistent efforts to address the remainder of derelict buildings in the International Bazaar and other dilapidated structures within the city.

The GBPA itself has never owned any part of the International Bazaar but has historically subsidized the Bazaar for many years when owners were no longer maintaining its communal areas.

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Beneath the Waves’ summer camp inspires young Bahamians to become stewards of the environment

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#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – While the waters near Great Exuma are renowned for their unmatched beauty, last weekend, more than 40 students spent a day with Beneath the Waves learning the deeper value of the marine ecosystems that surround their islands and act as a bedrock for the Bahamian economy and way of life.

As participants in the non-profit’s summer camp, the young students learned about mangrove and coral reef habitats and the many species that live among them.

They heard about some of Beneath the Waves’ research, including studies of sharks, seagrass and blue carbon, and research methods like underwater video surveys.

Coral Vita Conservancy, which has been working relentlessly to restore coral reefs off Grand Bahama, sent team member Joe Oliver , Director of Restoration Operations, to assist with the camp and provide in-depth information on corals in The Bahamas.

Team ECCO, a North Carolina-based ocean education organization, also provided in-depth lessons on invertebrates and fish.

Long after the taste of ice cream at the end-of-day party has faded, campers will remember learning how to tag a lifelike shark. And they’ll wear their camp t-shirts with pride, remembering this is the day they learned to value the water all around them and what lies beneath the waves.

Eleven-year-old twin sisters Kassidy and Kaylee Burrows described the camp as a highlight of their summer vacation.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Kassidy. “And we learned all about sponges, the water, mangroves, coral reefs — how they protect animals and how they protect the shore — and also about animals themselves, aquatic animals, for example, sea anemones, corals, sponges and sharks.”

Kassidy was especially enthused to share her experience with helping to plant new mangroves.

“We found out how mangrove seeds can actually disperse into the water,” she said.

“And I thought they were going to be small seeds, but, in my opinion, they looked like asparagus kind of.

“We also got to go in the water and plant new mangroves.”

Beneath the Waves’ scientists have been studying The Bahamas’ waters for more than a decade, having helped with the creation and management of conservation policies, including the legislation that made the country’s waters a shark sanctuary in 2011.

The non-governmental organization knows that in continuing efforts to protect The Bahamas’ greatest asset, its natural environment, community buy-in is vital.

And in that context, the value of helping young Bahamians gain these kinds of hands-on experiences and lessons, ones they’ll undoubtedly carry with them through life, can’t be overstated.

Kaylee Burrows is already brainstorming the ways she can apply what she learned in her future career.

While the mangroves piqued her sister’s interest, Kaylee said she was fascinated by coral reefs and the important role they play on a global scale, though she noted they don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated.

“I learned that The Bahamas has some of the biggest coral reefs in the world,” she said. “We actually put pieces of coral on a pipe to help build a platform for the coral. The reason I chose coral reefs over all of the topics is because we the people of the Bahamas, don’t even recognize how important our islands are. These coral reefs are very beneficial to the whole world.”

Kaylee said she hopes to one day become a veterinarian and an author.

“As a vet, I can help not just land animals, but marine animals too,” she said. “As an author, I can write books on marine biology. I think this experience helped with my future career, and I’m forever grateful.”

Beneath the Waves Managing Director Jamie Fitzgerald said plans are underway to make the camp an annual event.

“We look forward to being able to work more closely with local schools in the islands we frequent, such as Exuma and Nassau, to develop educational materials around sharks and marine science, and to foster opportunities for internships and future careers for any aspiring Bahamian marine biologists,” Fitzgerald said.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Hands-on experience – Exuma students planting mangroves with the help of research scientists from Beneath the Waves  — just one of the many memorable moments from the non-profit’s summer camp that was held on July 23. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

1st insert: Learning about coral — With the help of experts from Coral Vita, a Grand Bahama-based organization working to restore reefs near the island, students built plaforms for coral. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

2nd insert: More to come  – Camp leaders and participants posed with the inflatable shark, as the first of what is hoped to be many Beneath the Waves summer camps came to an end. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

 

Release: Beneath the Waves

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Caribbean Rising: Regional Heads of Government Meet in The Bahamas Aug 16-17 to discuss Caribbean position on Climate Change Mitigation

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#TheBahamas, August 5, 2022 – The Bahamas will host the first Regional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean in preparation for COP27 in Nassau, The Bahamas on August 16-17, 2022.

The inaugural event is being introduced by the Government of The Bahamas with the aim of devising a regional position on climate change mitigation ahead of COP 27 which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt November 6-20, 2022.

Invited participants include the Head of State from the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla,

Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.

The Government of The Bahamas intends to establish the meeting as an annual event and will seek to have it instituted as a regular meeting on calendar of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

“The Bahamas is introducing this conference as we seek to get results in the climate change fight,” Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas said ahead of the talks.

“The Bahamas, along with the region, has lobbied year after year, meeting after meeting, as we sought for the world to acknowledge our vulnerable position.”

“This meeting will position the Caribbean region to take control of our fate and present a unified position to the world at COP27,” Prime Minister Davis added.

The meeting is also intended to establish a Caribbean response exclusive of the conventional Latin

America-Caribbean pairing in order to better reflect common geographical and geo-political issues of Caribbean states.

“What we’ve been lacking regionally is a strategy that would aid us in our negotiation process when we go to the conferences of the parties referred to as COPs,” says Rochelle Newbold, Special Advisor on Climate Change and Environmental Matters and Climate Tsar in the Office of the Prime Minister in The Bahamas.

“This year will be COP number 27 and, as a region, we have never put forward a strategy document or an intent of how we want to deal with the issues that we face within the region collectively,” Newbold added.

The conference agenda will also focus on renewable energy, energy security, climate adaptation, climate financing, loss and damage due to tropical weather systems and establishing a framework for the sale of carbon credits.

Delegates attending COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in December 2021 signed off on a global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and counter global warming by limiting the temperature rise on Earth to a 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

The global warming phenomenon has been linked to more frequent and aggressive hurricanes in the Caribbean, which have subjected the region to billions of dollars in damage and bound countries to burdensome loan commitments.

According to the Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas report issued by the Inter-American Development Bank in March 2022,       damage and losses from Hurricane Dorian amounted to US$3.4 billion, a quarter of the country’s GDP.

A heat wave rolling across the United States and Europe is also being attributed to rising temperatures.

The UK recorded temperatures of over 40°C (104°F) for the first time in July 2022, according to local forecasters.

“We know that if we reach that 1.5°C and we exceed it, everything changes for everybody. While land-locked countries and large continents like South America will experience a change, island-states will experience that change three and four-fold.”

“With this meeting we will have all of those who face the same threat level sitting down together, discussing options, considering what is being suggested and how realistic this will be. For us, this is a fundamental thing that we should have been doing a long time ago,” Newbold said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a Chair’s Summary will be made available detailing the scope of the discussions as well as key messages and ideas that emerge. Additionally, the region plans to launch an initiative at COP27 to advance advocacy efforts on behalf of Caribbean States.

 

Photo Caption: During the weekly Press Briefing, at his Office, on August 4, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis announced that The Bahamas will host the Regional Caribbean Heads of Government Meeting, 16-17 August, 2022 at Baha Mar Resort.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

For Press Inquiries:

Clint Watson, Press Secretary

Office of The Prime Minister

Commonwealth of The Bahamas clintwatson@bahamas.gov.bs

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