NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Agricultural Development Organization (ADO) has committed to funding 21 public schools on six Family Islands with a donation of $50,000 for new and/or existing programmes.
The Department of Education, through the Ministry of Education and Technical & Vocational Training accepted the donations today (Monday, June 13) at the Ivy Dumont Building, University Drive.
The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training said the initiative is generous and brilliant and will go a long way, individually, collectively and nationally.
“It’s very important that we cause our young people to have some reality about what it is we need to do to advance our people. Agriculture is central. Going in the schools is critical because that is where you are going to change the world. When you start getting young people to change the perceptions and the consciousness and then go out into the world in execution then you begin to see the real change. I think strategic groups going in the schools as a way of communicating the necessity of food security and agriculture is very important.”
As one who leads a vegan lifestyle, Minister Hanna-Martin said, “The more we raise an awareness of fresh produce, fresh fruits you are also doing something else from the point of view of public health.”
Among officials attending the ceremony: the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs; the Hon. Zane Lightbourne, Minister of State; Leonardo Lightbourne, Parliamentary Secretary; Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary; Perlene Baker and Patrice Green, Education Officers. Representatives of ADO including Diane Phillips, Ortam Humes, and Karen Casey. Philip Smith, ADO Executive Chairman, was not in attendance.
Dr. Marcellus Taylor, Director, said the gift will be impactful. “It’s a wonderful thing when we have partnerships with groups like yours supporting us and ensuring that we create strong programmes.” He also expressed thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture for its support and encouraged continued collaboration between the ministries.
Dr. Taylor said in a lot of instances programmes by the Department of Education have done a lot with a little. “They have very few resources and in a lot of instances historically the programmes have not held prestige in terms of totem pole in the schools. They get the least amount of support, the least amount of funding. They have demonstrated in programme after programme that they — HO Nash, CV Bethel, North Andros High, etc. that they can, have and will continue to demonstrate that once we have our programmes, once we have whatever support we can get these programmes can flourish.
“They will engage new technology even though the goal of food production may be an old goal. This is the way in which agriculture is not only moving; this is how it’s going to be successful. We’re not only talking about agriculture studies progammes per se, we’re not just talking about planting a crop or caring for an animal – the spinoff connections with consumer science, the integration of all the activities required to take food from the field to the plate including preparing it and serving it. We’re continuously finding ways to bring real life skills to our students,” he said.
Ms. Casey, representing ADO, “We’re excited about this partnership because we believe that when you start with young individuals you plant the seeds in the minds of many young people that farming is not just for commercial purposes it is for all of us who are capable of growing in our own backyards or in community farms. It is one of the ways that we can help cure food insecurity in The Bahamas. Initiatives like those at CI Gibson and TA Thompson help to plant the seed of an idea with those students and allow it time to grow.
“If COVID-19 with high unemployment, combined with supply chain interruption has taught us one thing, it is that we must produce more of what we consume within our country. We must do better; in order to do better we need to recreate the culture of farming, of experiencing the joy and reward of planting, and seeing the fruits of our labour in the harvest. We have to learn how to access new markets and take Bahamian products to the next level. This starts one step at a time.”
Mrs. Phillips explained that ADO was born with a $1.1 million dollar grant from FTX Capital Markets as a result of what Mr. Smith experienced during the recent lockdowns as a result of the pandemic. She said, “During the high unemployment of COVID when he went into too many homes and saw empty cupboards he said we cannot just be feeding people; the need to feed won’t stop but we can’t do that alone, we must start to grow our own.”