NASSAU, The Bahamas – With the pressing issue of food sustainability being a top priority for the government, the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs (MOAMRFIA), is aggressively pursuing avenues to bring this objective to fruition. To this end, a partnership has been formed with Volcani International Partnerships (VIP), to launch a Cultivation Centre hub for agricultural production in the country.
The ‘Cultivation Centre’ is designed to promote greater interaction between technocrats and farmers, and will modernize food and agriculture systems in the country. It will comprise a produce exchange, a fish and farm store, and food processing kitchens. The announcement was made during a press conference held on Monday, 13th June at the Ministry’s headquarters on East Bay Street. VIP is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works with local partners to bring Israel’s leading agricultural experts and innovations to enhance global food security and economic prosperity. The objective of the $3 million initiative will be to pinpoint challenges and find solutions to accelerate the country’s food systems.
Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources & Family Island Affairs, the Hon. Clay Sweeting said that many countries around the world have tapped into Volcani’s expertise.
“As you may know, many countries around the world, have benefited greatly from Volcani’s vast expertise in innovative food production strategies,” he said. “Experts from Volcani have successfully assisted Israel to become one of the world’s leading agricultural centers; and just recently, Africa-based RELEAF and VIP (USA) together announced a letter of understanding which should address African food security challenges with the assistance of Israeli expertise and experience.”
Mr. Sweeting said that VIP is here to share advisory services through innovative soil testing and other technological advances. A team will travel to several islands with Ministry officials to produce a comprehensive report, which the government will use to develop best practices for heightened food production. The team includes: Dr. Zvi Ron, agricultural economist and technical team leader; Prof. Sheenan Harpaz, an expert in aquaculture, fish nutrition and production; Mr. URI Adler, an expert in horticultural production in greenhouses, shade houses, hydroponics and organic agriculture; Mr. York Zvieli, expert in pest management for horticulture production; Mr. Yair Hada, who will be advising from Israel on poultry production; and Joanne Moore, international development professional and strategic advisor.
Israeli Ambassador to the Bahamas and Mexico, Mr. Zvi Tal, who attended virtually, delivered congratulatory remarks and said that he was elated to be a part of facilitating the partnership.
Executive Director of Volcani International Partnerships (USA), Ms. Danielle Abraham, said that although Israel and the Bahamas may appear to be very different countries, both countries face similar realities in establishing a thriving agriculture sector.
“Despite what you may have heard, Israel faced great adversity in developing its agricultural sector, because just like The Bahamas, it is not a natural nor easy place to succeed,” she said. “Israel is a tiny country, two-thirds of which is desert; it has a shortage of water resources; it is situated in a difficult neighborhood, where export markets have always been further afield and when it gained independence, it faced serious food insecurity and the population had ration books.”
Yet despite these challenges, she pointed out that in a short time, Israel was able to completely transform its agricultural sector and has emerged as a global leader in agricultural innovation.
During their week-long visit to The Bahamas, the team will travel throughout New Providence, Abaco, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera to assess prospective sites for the Cultivation Centre.