ABACO – The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) is making hundreds of acres of prime farmland in Abaco available to Bahamians for food production. The land has already been prepared and divided into five and ten-acre plots to be leased at $25 per acre per year for ten years initially.

 

Hundreds of potential farmers and interested persons turned out at meetings in the North and South Abaco constituencies last weekend to hear BAIC executive chairman Edison Key lay out the plan to stimulate agriculture.

 

He urged Bahamians to tap into the estimated $500 millions dollars spent to import food into the Bahamas. Mr Key also pledged BAIC’s “full support” as the Government presses ahead with its food security initiative. More land will be opened for farming as the need arises, he added.

The attendees also heard from representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Bahamas Customs, the Immigration Department, and the Bahamas Development Bank.

 

Agronomist John Hedden was introduced as BAIC’s consultant assigned to assist farmers. Mr Key was accompanied by BAIC general manager Benjamin Rahming, assistant general manager (lands) Joyce Treco, assistant general manager (agriculture) Arnold Dorsett, and Domestic Investment Officer (Abaco) Ejnar Cornish.

 

About 500 acres of the former Key and Sawyer/Bahama Star Farm at Norman’s Castle have been divided into 64 five-acre plots and 30 ten-acre plots.

 

“We are looking at almost 100 persons who could get involved in farming right away,” said Mr Key. “BAIC does not have any red tape.”

 

In the Marsh Harbour area about 10,000 acres of prime farm land including a huge portion of the former sugar cane farms there have been turned over to BAIC to manage. About 640 acres of that was divided into five- and ten-acre plots and offered at $25 per acre per year for ten years.

“Everywhere in the Bahamas where there is land to farm on we are going to promote agriculture,” said Mr Key. “If we were to eliminate just half of the some $500 million we use to import food, we would at the same time almost eliminate unemployment in this country.”

 

The land is already prepared and provided with wells capable of pumping up to 1,000 gallons per minute. BAIC will be making tractors and other farm equipment available, said Mr Key.

“We are trying to do everything possible to put the incentives in place so you would be able to jump-start your operation,” Mr Key told prospective farmers. “Agriculture in this country has been neglected for far too long. There is money to be made in farming.

 

“At $25 per year per acre, we are going to give you a lease for ten years with an option for another ten years. So, if you’re serious, let’s get the ball rolling.”

 

CAPTIONS 

Eager prospective farmers line up to take advantage of BAIC’s land lease for food production in Abaco. (BIS photo by Gladstone Thurston) 
 

Agronomist John Hedden, BAIC’s consultant to assist farmers in Abaco makes a point during a meeting in Marsh Harbour. (BIS photo by Gladstone Thurston) 
 

Executive Chairman Edison M Key (standing) lays out BAIC’s plans to stimulate food production during the Marsh Harbour meeting. Also pictured, from right, are Administrator Cephus Cooper, assistant general manager Joyce Treco (land) general manager Benjamin Rahming, assistant general manager (agriculture) Arnold Dorsett, and Domestic Investment Officer (Abaco) Ejnar Cornish. (BIS photo by Gladstone Thurston) 
 

A portion of the crowd at the Marsh Harbour meeting to hear of BAIC’s plans to stimulate agriculture. (BIS photo by Gladstone Thurston) 
 

BAIC’s Executive Chairman Edison Key inspects seedlings ready for planting at an Abaco tomato and sweet pepper operation. (BIS photo by Gladstone Thurston)