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ADO Tours Lucayan Produce, Farming support NGO continues fact-finding mission to explore what works

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#TheBahamas, May 2, 2022 – Farms, like just about everything else, come in all sizes and shapes.  And like other items that come in various forms, what works for one may not work for all.

“That’s what we are learning as we go along,” says Philip Smith, Executive Chairman of the Agricultural Development Organization, the recently launched non-government organization formed to support farming and the culture of self-sustaining food security.  “While it is evident that there is a huge difference in resources and production capabilities between a mass production facility like Lucayan Tropical Produce and a backyard farmer in Cat Island, what is most interesting to us is how we can learn from both and help each other.”

Learning prompted a tour of Lucayan Tropical Produce, an impressive 20,000 square meters of greenery, soil, plants, shade houses, refrigeration, boilers, equipment, endless rows of cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes and one element that is harder to replace – perseverance.

“We started in the fourth quarter of 2006 and it took us over 10 years to begin to get it right,” explained Tropical Produce President Cameron Symonette, with a hands-on approach and knowledge of everything from the value of a fistful of seeds to what reverse osmosis does to the environment.

The most surprising lesson they learned was how dynamic agriculture versus other traditional manufacturing businesses were, what Symonette and his father, Craig, a director of the company, call “the continuous puruist of a happy plant, one that wants to produce.”

“We changed systems and management four times and kept trying to get it right,” says the younger Symonette.  “We felt we could produce 100% of the market needs for cucumbers and 100% of the island of New Providence’s need for Bahamian tomatoes but it just wasn’t happening.”

What stood in the way was lack of a significance difference between night and day temperatures.

“Under good farming conditions, a plant stresses every day in the heat and relaxes at night,” says the company president.  “In The Bahamas, there is little difference between night and day so the plant is stressed most of the time given the rolling average of difference being so small.  It took us a long time to figure that out, to figure out what made the happy plant.”

Now, with strictly controlled temperatures, constant refrigerated trucking and a new closed loop temperature controlled chill house under intense lighting, the lettuce Lucayan Tropical Produce turns out is heartier and is proving to have a  longer shelf life than other products available in the marketplace, says Symonette.  Thanks to the new indoor growing system, the company is able to produce lettuce year-round.  Despite growing up to five varieties of tomatoes, the extreme summer heat puts a halt to that production.

Lucayan Tropical supplies about 65% of the cucumber market with both slender European cucumbers and traditional.

For ADO director Karen Casey, the visit to Lucayan Tropical Produce off the beaten path in western New Providence was affirmation of what founders of the relatively new NGO suspected.

“It takes a tremendous investment to create a massive scale successful farm in The Bahamas,” said Casey, president of Sysco Bahamas, the largest wholesaler of food in the country.  “It reinforces our need to focus on cooperative crop planting and we are extremely grateful that the Symonettes have offered to help us in that.”

Smith said the happy plant and other lessons would be helpful to farmers throughout The Bahamas.

“Craig and Cameron shared 16 years of experience with us, experience we can take back to workshops on community farming, backyard and schoolyard farming,” said Smith.  “This has been an incredibly valuable tour.”

ADO was formed in early January with a $1.1 million grant from FTX, the first large gift awarded by the giant blockchain trading platform after opening its headquarters in The Bahamas.  FTX CEO Ryan Salome serves on the steering committee along with Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley, businessman and former Minister of Tourism Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Karen Casey and Smith, who is the former executive director of the Bahamas Feeding Network.  More than a dozen community and civic leaders serve on various committees.

 

Release: Agriculture Development Organization

Photo Captions: 

Header: Fact-finding tour – Lucayan Tropical Produce President Cameron Symonette explains benefits of sharp changes in night and day temperature for healthy ‘happy’ plants to visitors from the new food security NGO Agricultural Development Organization. Picture l-r, ADO directors Diane Phillips, Executive Chairman Philip Smith, Sysco Bahamas President Karen Casey and in background next to Symonette, Craig Symonette who founded Lucayan Tropical in 2006.

1st insert: Agricultural Development Organization (ADO) director and president of Sysco Bahamas Karen Casey talks tomatoes with Lucayan Tropical Produce. ADO was formed to make self-sustaining food supply a reality for The Bahamas.

2nd insert: A world of cucumbers – Lucayan Tropical Produce supplies about 65% of the local demand for cucumbers, growing European and standard varieties under these leafy greens. ADO toured Lucayan Tropical recently as part of a 3-month fact-finding tour to gather information helpful to farmers throughout The Bahamas at all levels from backyard to community and beyond.

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GBPA invests $1.1 million in major road infrastructure improvements for city of Freeport

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#TheBahamas, May 20, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) will commence its $1.1 million road resurfacing project in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Sunday, May 22, 2022 beginning with the Fishing Hole Road, and West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout.

“Our City Maintenance and Management section is excited to begin this important initiative to resurface roadways within Freeport,” said Troy McIntosh, GBPA Deputy Director of Building and Development Services.  “Our city has been through many challenging storm events which did catastrophic damage to infrastructure around the island, including our roads.

“But our community is resilient, and we are seeing a positive shift in the economic tide,” continued McIntosh. “Excitement for future opportunities and anticipation of new investments is palpable through the city, so we knew this was the ideal time to start this aspect of Freeport’s much-needed makeover to which GBPA is fully committed.”

Roadworks are scheduled for main thoroughfares and a number of residential roads.  These areas include the Fishing Hole Road, West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout, West Atlantic Drive at Rayvin Mall roundabout, Beach Way Drive, Bahama Reef Boulevard, Pioneers Way, Waterfall Drive, Tarrytown Street and Grand Bahama Highway.  “We selected these locations using our Road Rating System, which allows inspectors to assess the condition and rideability of our roads on an annual basis,” added Mr. McIntosh.

The GBPA roadworks project went out to bid in December 2020.  In March 2022, the bid was awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), who specializes in heavy civil engineering projects including major highways.

“We ask motorists to drive with due care and attention while roadwork is underway,” Mr. McIntosh advised.  Flagmen and temporary traffic lights will be in position to direct traffic.  Please obey the speed limit and posted signs to help ensure the safety of all motorists and crews as they conduct work.  Delays are expected as there will be partial lane closures in some areas.”

The initial phase of road resurfacing is scheduled to be completed at the end of June 2022.  For the latest updates and information on redirected travel routes, residents can follow any of the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s social media sites or visit its website at www.gbpa.com.

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Freaky Weather includes Waterspouts, Severe Flooding and fish in Backyards

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By Dana Malcolm & Deandrea Hamilton

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 19, 2022 – A waterspout whirling its way onto shore in the west, images of submerged cars, impassable roads and even fish darting around in a flooded backyard were the testimony of Nassau’s extreme weather weekend.

The Bahamas Department of meteorology had predicted severe weather from Friday midday to Saturday warning of, “GUSTY WINDS, DANGEROUS LIGHTNING, HEAVY DOWNPOURS, HAIL AND POSSIBLE WATERSPOUT OR TORNADIC ACTIVITY and possibly LOCALIZED FLOODING.”

Reports of hail, the freakish funnel cloud, downpour flooded streets, submerged cars and stranded workers trying to get home made for a shocking weekend.

There were dramatic videos of the forecast, waterspouts, which made an appearance near seaside restaurants Sapodilla Bay and Traveller’s Rest.  The ‘water tornado’ slashing against parked cars, producing whipping winds and tossing water into the restaurant elicited screams and frantic activity as residents could be heard rushing to safety.

The storm is unseasonably early with the official start to the hurricane season still two weeks away; but it maintains a trend for severe weather consistently appearing well ahead of the official June 1 start.

On Tuesday waterspouts erupted in the bay off Harbour Island, Eleuthera, also in The Bahamas as the country was inundated this week with SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

The latest forecast as weekend approaches is there will be more of the same.

“EXTENDED FORECAST (FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS): A TROPICAL WAVE, SKIRTING THE

SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE BAHAMAS, WILL PROGRESSIVELY MOVE WESTWARDS AND

INFLUENCE AN INFLUX OF MOISTURE NORTHWESTWARDS OVER THE BAHAMAS, KEEPING

RAIN CHANCES IN THE FORECAST INTO SATURDAY.”

The first tropical wave of 2022 has been identified but a pre-season storm is not yet expected. There have been pre-season tropical storms for the past seven years in a row according to WWLTV and the season is expected to be more severe than usual.

“An above-average season with major hurricane landfalls in the U.S.and in the Caribbean is unfortunately likely. Accuweather experts predict.

“16-20 named storms and six to eight hurricanes. Of those hurricanes, about three to five are forecast to reach major hurricane status.”

Boaters and swimmers in the two archipelagos – The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands – were warned to be cautious as well, “BOATERS SHOULD REMAIN VIGILANT DUE TO THE THREAT OF POSSIBLE WATERSPOUT ACTIVITY. BEACHGOERS SHOULD EXERCISE CAUTION DUE TO THE RISK OF RIP CURRENTS,” the Meteorology Department said.

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Government, fulfilling commitment to provide housing for Bahamians

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By: Kathryn Campbell

Bahamas Information Services

 

 

#TheBahamas, May 18, 2022 – The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, has underscored the government’s commitment to “strengthening” and “deepening” its “unmatched” legacy of providing access to decent, affordable housing to Bahamians.

“My government is acutely aware of the current housing shortage in The Bahamas and the backlog of housing applications at the Mortgage Corporation of The Bahamas (BMC),” said Prime Minister Davis.

“Our BMC Executive Chair, Barbara Cartwright, is committed to expediting those applications and assigning without delay, suitably qualified housing applicants.

“I believe the number of applications at BMC in just the last eight months is in excess of 3,500. This housing demand suggests that we move with urgency and dispatch.”

In this vein, the government, Monday, along with stakeholders, unveiled The Renaissance at Carmichael, a housing sub-division on 70 acres of crown land off Carmichael Road in Western New Providence.

Executives of the government and public-private partnerships (PPP) participated in a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, May 16, 2022 at the Office of the Prime Minister, which will allow Bahamian families the ability to open the doors to 200 new homes.

The subdivision is being funded by a PPP arrangement between the Government, a $20 million backing from PROVEN Wealth Ltd. through Simplified Lending, the Mortgage Corporation of the Bahamas and financiers.

Dignitaries in attendance: the Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing; the Hon. Vaughn Miller, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources; the Hon. Pia Glover-Rolle, Minister of State for the Public Service; Leroy Major, Executive Chairman, Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation; Nicole Campbell, Secretary to the Cabinet; David Davis and Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretaries; Barbara Cartwright, Chairman, Bahamas Mortgage Corporation; Oral Lafleur, Acting Chief Housing Officer; and Thomas Ferguson, Acting Director of Housing. Representatives of private sector partners: Robert Pantry, Founder and CEO, Simplified Lending; Johann Heaven, President and CEO, PROVEN Wealth Limited.

Prime Minister Davis assured that as the economy fully opens and grows, the government expects to expand PPPs in other areas of national economy including public infrastructure providing investments, ownership and job opportunities for Bahamians.

Minister Coleby-Davis said the initiative will set a new standard in affordable housing by which other housing developments will be measured.

She described today’s signing is an “historic” milestone which can be attributed to the commitment of the government to bring to fruition a concept from an idea to reality.

“With this project we intend to create an estate where a sense of community thrives. There will be lit streets, sidewalks; a park where children can play safely and family gatherings can take place. Neighbors will be able to come together and interact as our families were able to do many years ago.

Formerly known as Carmichael Village Sub-division, the community will comprise 104 single family, two and three-bedroom residences, and eight two-storey condominium buildings with 12 units each.

In a video presentation Minister Coleby-Davis said, “Thanks to Simplified Lending, a Bahamian company which secured funding through a leading regional finance company called PROVEN. Many who only dreamed of home ownership will be able to walk through the front door to their new lives in less than one year.”

She informed that homes will be built to the highest quality with steel frame construction, storm-rated windows and doors, attractive facades and strong concrete foundations raised three feet above road level.

“Thanks to careful design, planning and exemptions on certain building supplies, every home will remain in the affordable price range opening doors to home ownership starting at $130,000,” she said.

Mr. Heaven said, “This transaction today will be primarily funded through the Bahamian portion of our Heritage education fund which is a regional education savings plan that is over 30 years old and is a household name for saving for your children’s tertiary education.”

The government broke ground for Pinecrest Sub-Division, a 43-lot community in Southern New Providence in January of this year.

 

Release: BIS

BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna

Header: From left: Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretary; the Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing; Nicole Campbell, Secretary to the Cabinet and the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

1st insert: The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, is pictured speaking at the signing of Memorandum of Understanding for The Renaissance at Carmichael, a new sub-division in western New Providence.

2nd insert: The Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing and Johann Heaven, President and CEO, PROVEN Wealth Ltd., after ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

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