Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Darren Seymour. I am a farmer and was asked to speak at this career fair on some initiatives the government offers to assist and encourage more Bahamians to consider farming as a career. I would take a few minutes to speak generally about farming before telling you about those initiatives.
A study of farming in The Bahamas shows that farming has not maintained a steady growth over the years. There was once a large dairy and poultry farm at Hatchet Bay Eleuthera that provided milk, eggs, and ice-cream for Eleuthera and New Providence. Many persons were employed in Eleuthera and Nassau because of this and it was good for the economy. Those farms have closed now for many years. At Abaco there were two large farms that provided tons of cucumbers and oranges for export to the United States. They are no longer in operation. A large poultry farm at Gladstone Road in New Providence which provided lots of chicken recently went out of business and many workers lost their jobs. The population of The Bahamas is now approximately 350,000 and continues to grow. Approximately 5,000,000 tourists visit The Bahamas annually, and this is also increasing. With an economy in recession and an increasing population to feed the development of farming in the Bahamas will help the economy by providing jobs and income for Bahamians, food for our residents and visitors and a reduction in the amount of money we now spend to buy food from other countries.
A Bahamian Farmer is one of the most resilient business persons in The Bahamas. He works in an atmosphere where he is threatened each year by hurricanes. On the local market, foreign foodstuffs are preferred over his own; some imports are duty free, insurance is either too expensive or unavailable, they face high work permit fees for immigrant farm labor along with high costs of inputs, and the prices which he is paid for his output are not on par with inflation. Yet he...
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