Agriculture in the Bahamas

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Year after year there are ringing calls for the Bahamas to invest more and do more to develop agriculture. In 2001, former Central Bank researcher Gabriella Fraser observed that Bahamian agriculture had "hardly evolved" over time, and asked whether enough effort was being made to achieve food security. Environmental advocate Sam Duncombe argued in a recent online exchange that If we don't invest in agriculture and manufacturing, Bahamians will be condemned to "a life of servitude and dependence." Dr Marikis Alvarez of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation recently said agriculture could make a "huge contribution" to the Bahamian economy - if only we would inject enough funds into the sector to make it work. Farmer's association president Keith Campbell says we need to focus on food security and "fully protect" Bahamian farmers from imports. Lawyer, physician and sometime politician Dr Dexter Johnson insists we can feed ourselves - and produce a surplus for export. Visioneer John Bostwick says that with better management we could easily achieve food self-sufficiency, and even replace oil imports with our own bio-energy crops. BAIC chief Edison Key says agriculture could be "the catalyst for economic diversification" by substituting local products for $500 million of imported foodstuffs. Meanwhile, the government's sector development plan argues that agriculture can be "repositioned as a strong pillar of the Bahamian economy". And for anyone who remembers the "good old days" when granny and pa harvested fresh fruit and vegetables from their backyard, it is easy to believe that these projections can be fulfilled. We have heard these calls for agricultural development for as long as I can remember. In fact, as an official speechwriter at the Bahamas News Bureau in the 1970s, I wrote about linkages between agriculture and tourism so often it became boilerplate - something to be inserted at the appropriate point in every text. So how accurate is all this? Are we...
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