#TheBahamas, March 31, 2022 – Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Hon. Clay Sweeting is leading a delegation of five persons to Ecuador for the United National Food and Agriculture (FAO) 37th regional conference of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The aim of the conference is to enhance food security initiatives throughout the region.
“During the first two-day sessions, we will have representatives from the Ministry speak to global technical experts on strategies and practices that can be adopted in The Bahamas to benefit the agriculture and marine sectors and another two days where Regional Ministers will share successful country experiences that will benefit the region. At the end of the week, I will have a closed bilateral meeting with the Director-General, Qu Dongyu, to discuss different areas of Agriculture and Marine Resources,” Minister Sweeting said.
“I expect the main topics to be about climate resilient and sustainable agrifood systems and how we can come together as a sector to meet the demand for food security. FAO and supporting partners are working towards transforming the food system to strengthen local food production through improved value chains to reduce food imports, I am confident that during this week we are going to be discussing how we can achieve this.”
“We’ve had discussions with the FAO on how we can grow the Agricultural sector. They’ve also assisted with hurricane victims in Grand Bahama and Abaco. In the marine sector, they’ve held workshops for fish pots to assist fishermen with getting back on their feet again. They’ve also provided training with apparatus and how they can – as fishermen- use their own products. They are putting together a plan so that we can find ways to feed ourselves not just by modernizing but by also working with farmers through an Agribusiness Incubator to enhance their business skills and increase market linkages, through the National School Feeding Project.”
Minister Sweeting noted that The Bahamas is working to produce a country strategic framework for food production from 2022-2026 that is linked to priorities of the Government.
“The agenda would be to transform the food sector to being sustainable and resilient to climate and economic shocks. We look forward to working with them and they are working along with other countries because that’s how we can beat this food insecurity that we all are facing,” he said.
He added that the Ministry is looking for ways to expand its assistance to farmers.
“We are looking to enhance government’s current assistance to farmers. We also understand that there are farmers that are producing an excessive amount of produce. So, to create added value, we have created some production and food kitchens across the Family Islands to ensure that produce that might have been wasted in previous years will now have added value in jams and jellies or whatever they feel can create a new part of the industry,” Minister Sweeting explained.
“There is a lot of potential in the Ministry and a lot of untapped value and we are hoping that the ministry can facilitate and be the driver of this. The wholesalers are looking for people that are innovative and they are able to transform the industry in various ways. I have spoken to many wholesalers, and they are ready to support, we just have to – as Bahamians, farmers and other persons in the sector- capitalize on all that’s out there.”
National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas
By Shanieka Smith
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.
“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.
Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.
Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”
The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.
Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.
Consumer protection, 85 businesses to be put under watch
By Dana Malcolm
February 2, 2023 – Grocery stores and dozens of other businesses will be under the microscope soon as the government begins aggressively enforcing the Consumer Protection Ordinance passed back in 2016 with an all-new Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement (C.A.R.E) Drive.
Carried out by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Fair Competition the drive aims to “actively educate providers whilst enforcing the main provisions to protect consumers under the Consumer Protection Ordinance,” a press release explained.
Firstly, Consumer Officers charged with protecting the people of the TCI from unfair business practices will be assessing the prices of selected breadbasket items in 23 different stores countrywide each month to see whether price gouging is being carried out by businesses.
Breadbasket items are currently duty-free under the Food and Fuel Tax Break until the end of the financial year in March and all savings from those tax exemptions should be passed on directly to the consumer. After each assessment, which will continue for several months at least a monthly price report will be published on the Department of Trade’s website.
In addition, the Consumer Officers will be monitoring other business activities across the country “to ensure that providers are compliant with their duties to consumers.”
Those responsibilities include:
- Giving customers certain basic information about goods and services being sold;
- Informing consumers about terms and conditions before any payment is made (e.g., warranties, refunds, returns, exchanges, etc.) and;
- Abstaining from misleading and deceptive conduct, false representation and unfair business practices.
The government says they will reach at least 85 businesses with the C.A.R.E. Drive but they did not indicate the process behind how these businesses had been singled out. Non-compliant ones will be fined after a thorough investigation and warnings are issued by the Department of Trade.
With this in mind, business owners are being encouraged to familiarize themselves with their duties under the Ordinance lest they be caught in breach. The government did not say what entities would be assessed and whether that included major retail grocery stores, gasoline dealers, water companies, electricity providers, telecommunications companies and other essential providers of the services that all islanders spend on.
74 Foreign Nationals Convicted in The Magistrate’s Court
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – In Magistrate’s Court #1 today, seventy-two (72) foreign nationals were arraigned before Magistrate Algernon Allen Jr. for various immigration offenses.
Thirty-two (32) Cuban nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) of them were subsequently sentenced to four months in the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS). Thirty (30) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department of Immigration to be deported.
A total of forty (40) Haitian nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) received custodial sentences of three months at BDOCS, and thirty-seven (37) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department to be deported. In addition to the charge of Illegal Landing, one (1) Haitian man was also convicted of Knowingly Attempting to Misleading an Immigration Officer and subsequently sentenced to six months at BDOCS on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Three (3) Haitian nationals were also charged with Overstaying. Two (2) pleaded guilty and were convicted. Respectively they were fined $2,000.00 or, in default of payment, served six months at BDOCS, conditionally discharged, and deported. One (1) Haitian female pleaded not guilty, and the matter was adjourned to a later date. Upon payment of fines, completion of sentences, and discharge, all persons were ordered to be turned over to the Department of Immigration for deportation.
The Department remains committed to executing our mandate to ensure compliance with the Statue Laws of our country.
For more information, call the Public Relations Unit at 1-242-322-7530, visit our website at www.immigration.gov.bs, or call our Investigation hotline anonymously, at 1-242-604-0249.
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