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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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PM Davis: Artificial Intelligence Micro-Course Graduation is ‘something very special’

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his Official Remarks at the University of The Bahamas-Partanna-King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Intensive Micro-Course Graduation Ceremony, on May 22, 2024, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that he believed that those involved had accomplished “something very special.”

“I see this as the start of what will hopefully be an ongoing initiative, as we embrace the power of strategic partnerships and innovative ideas that can empower our people for success,” he said, during the ceremony held at Choices Restaurant on UB Main Campus.

Among those present included UB Acting President Janyne Hodder; UB Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Woodside-Oriakhi; Dean of the UB College of Business Dr. Marlo Murphy-Braynen; UB Chair of the School of Business Daniel Thompson; Dr. Dematee Mohan of the Office of the Prime Minister; and Director-General of Bahamas Information Services Elcott Coleby.

A number of podium guests also assisted in presenting five micro-course graduates with scholarships to KAUST.

Prime Minister Davis stated that the world was currently going through an era of “rapid, and, I dare say, epic change.”

“They are calling it the triple transition, which includes climate change, demographic change, as well as digital change,” he noted.  “The Bahamas is experiencing each of these changes in profound ways.”

He added: “Climate change represents the biggest threat we have ever, ever faced, as well as the biggest opportunity to re-align our society with our values to make the world cleaner, healthier, more prosperous, and more just.  And then there is digital transformation, which requires tremendous investments in infrastructure, and, of course, education in digital skills so that our workforce can remain competitive in this new era.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the impact of that global transition was so broad that embracing those changes as opportunities required the integration of climate resilience and digital innovation into every aspect of The Bahamas’ national development models.

“That is why I am so proud of what we have accomplished today,” he said.  “We have opened the eyes of these young Bahamian scholars to the vast world of digital transformation through AI and machine learning.”

“We have placed this great potential at their fingertips so that they can go on to be, not just consumers of digital technology, but also digital producers, disruptors, and innovators,” Prime Minister Davis added.

He pointed out that they lived in a time when AI had become commonplace. Universities, Prime Minister Davis added, were grappling with the ethical implications of natural language algorithms, like Chat GPT, which produced essays with just a few prompts.

“Programmers and writers are using open-source AI apps to become more efficient and productive,” he said.  “We are seeing the widespread application of AI in every sector that is redefining how we work.”

“The AI revolution has already made waves here in The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Local businesses are using AI to collect data and empower their marketing initiatives.”

He continued:  “My administration has pioneered the use of AI at the Ministry of Tourism, where AI chatbots are facilitating more efficient customer service and AI algorithms are helping us to identify and target likely visitors.  Even the Water and Sewerage Corporation has begun using AI to detect leaks.

“But this is just the beginning.”

Prime Minister Davis said that AI was still in its infancy. In the near future, he added, AI will take over repetitive, everyday tasks in fields as vast as engineering, programming, law, accounting, marketing, and healthcare administration.

“We also anticipate using AI in our current efforts to fight climate change and make our nation more climate resilient,” Prime Minister Davis noted.  “With these changes, some current jobs may become obsolete, but new jobs within data science and AI will emerge.”

“We will need a robust supply of well-trained, well-educated professionals to ensure that The Bahamas continues to keep pace with global economic developments,” he added.  “And we want those professionals to be Bahamians.

“Today, we have taken steps toward building that future-focused workforce with 20 bright young scholars here at UB.”

Prime Minister Davis thanked KAUST, with special mention to Director Albarakati and Professor Khan for “partnering with us on this groundbreaking initiative.”

“I hope this is the beginning of a fruitful partnership that will enrich our students and allow for the exchange of knowledge between faculty to strengthen our institutions,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis also thanked Partanna, and its CEO, His Excellency, Ambassador Rick Fox, for helping to make the partnership happen through its funding and support.

“Thank you, as well, for your continued commitment to the environment through your groundbreaking carbon-negative concrete that will transform the global construction industry,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“Ambassador Fox, you are truly a proud son of our soil, and you continue to inspire us all,” he added.

Prime Minister thanked the faculty and staff at the University of The Bahamas for “their support in making this happen.”

“They often say if you can make it at UB, you can make it anywhere,” he pointed out.  “This saying has proven true, not just because of the academic integrity and rigour of UB’s programmes, but because of UB’s willingness to embrace change and opportunity.”

He added:  “Thank you to UB’s dynamic leadership team, President Hodder, UB’s Chair Mrs. Maynard Gibson, the Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Marlo Murphy Braynen, Dr. (Woodside-) Oriakhi and your team for making this possible.  Most importantly, thank you to the students who enrolled and committed to completing this course as an investment in your future and your future prospects.”

For those students who go on to continue their studies in AI, either at King Abdullah University or through other avenues, Prime Minister encouraged them to continue exploring their interests and talents.

“Continue adding in-demand skills to your repertoire and continue being trailblazers in your respective fields,” he said.  “Congratulations to all of you.”

“We will need bright, young leaders to take on the challenges that lay ahead of us,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Based on what I am seeing today, I am confident that the future is in good, good hands.

“God bless you all and may He continue to bless our nation.”

PHOTO CAPTION

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis takes part in the University of The Bahamas-Partanna-King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Intensive Micro-Course Graduation Ceremony, on May 22, 2024, held at Choices Restaurant on UB Main Campus.  Among those present included UB Acting President Janyne Hodder; UB Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Maria Woodside-Oriakhi; Dean of the UB College of Business Dr. Marlo Murphy-Braynen; UB Chair of the School of Business Daniel Thompson; Dr. Dematee Mohan of the Office of the Prime Minister; and Director-General of Bahamas Information Services Elcott Coleby.  A number of podium guests also assisted in presenting five micro-course graduates with scholarships to KAUST.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

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124 HAITIAN NATIONALS REPATRIATED TO CAP-HAITIEN, HAITI

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#TheBahamas, May 21, 2024 – On Wednesday, May 15, the Department effectively executed the repatriation of a group of illegal migrants from the Lynden Pindling International Airport, New Providence to Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

At approximately 9:11 a.m., a Bahamasair chartered flight departed New Providence en route to Haiti with one hundred twenty-four (124) Haitian nationals onboard; a hundred and eight (108) adult males, thirteen (13) adult females and three (3) minors. The Department’s Deportation and Enforcement Units led the escort.

All security and health protocols were observed as the safety and welfare of our officers, law enforcement counterparts and migrants remain the highest priority.

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Introducing The Bahamas Cannabis Authority; Marijuana Bill tabled by Darville

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 20, 2024 – A medical marijuana industry is set for establishment in The Bahamas, following the tabling of the Cannabis Bill, 2024, in the House of Assembly, by Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Dr Michael Darville, May 15.

The Minister said objective of legislation is to set up a framework to establish The Bahamas Cannabis Authority, and to regulate the of importation, exportation, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, producing, sale, possession, distribution, and use of cannabis.

He told the Assembly that the law represents a thoughtful and balanced approach and was driven by a duty to act as he referenced the number of Bahamians who are battling cancer and in need of alternative treatments for pain management and other related issues.

“The legislative package, the Cannabis Bill, 2024 is designed to introduce a controlled system of cannabis use in medical treatments. The bill establishes the Bahamas Cannabis Authority.  A regulatory body overseeing all aspects of cannabis management and cultivation and distribution.  The authority’s mandate is to ensure that cannabis production and use are safe, controlled and effectively integrated into our health care system,” Minister Darville said.

Adding that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that he also tabled, reclassifies cannabis by removing it from the dangerous drug list, now recognises its potential for medical use, he said the change aligns “our nations laws” with evolving global perspectives on cannabis.

The new law makes provisions for the licensing of cannabis handlers across various aspects of The Bahamas, and Dr. Darville said the licensing is structured to prioritise Bahamian ownership, with provisions ensuring that significant control remains in the hands of Bahamian nationals, fostering local entrepreneurship and economic benefits “for Bahamians across the country.

“We are here to make a difference, to enact change, remove years of stigma and transform lives by offering alternative treatments by way of medical cannabis.  The legislation before us offers a careful, considerate approach ensuring that we prioritize the wellbeing and safety of our citizens. Let us move with compassion,” he said.

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