BAIC officials travel to Exuma to follow up and check on planned projects
  
Friday, 11 June 2010 07:32

BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming (far right) talks to L N Coakley Senior High School agriculture instructor, Wayne Ashley (far left) about the school’s program and what it needs in order to survive and grow.  Also pictured from left in the front of the greenhouse on the school’s farmland is Assistant General Manager, BAIC, Arnold Dorsett and BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key.  (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)EXUMA, Bahamas -- The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key travelled to Exuma to follow up on a few projects the Corporation has planned for that island.

The trip also keeps in line with the Corporation’s mandate, which is to stimulate and encourage the creation, expansion and promotion of small and medium sized businesses, thereby facilitating employment and import substitution.

BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming; Assistant General Manager, Arnold Dorsett, and Human Resources Manager, Vernita Rhodenwalt accompanied Mr Key on the trip, Tuesday, June 8.

Everette Hart, the Corporation’s Investment Officer stationed in Exuma and Althea Ferguson, President of the Exuma Farmers’ Association met the team at the airport.

Mr Key explained that BAIC’s officials involved in agriculture and handicraft, travel to the islands almost every week because they have a mission to empower Bahamians to create a country that is diversified and can sustain its own agricultural needs.

“Eventually, I hope we can make a difference in every island, so they can at least get to a point where they could produce, even if is enough just for the island itself to bring a sense of food security for the country in general,” he said.

BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key (far right) discusses with BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming plans for BAIC’s office space on the Exuma Foundation property. The Government will be renting the space from the Foundation.  Also pictured is BAIC’s Investment Officer, Everette Hart, and President of the Exuma Farmers’ Association, Althea Ferguson. (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)“This is the time to do it because of the downturn in the economy; it is very important now to try to diversify as much as possible,” Mr Key added.

Eventually, Bahamians should look into large-scale agriculture on islands like Abaco, Andros and maybe Grand Bahama to target the export market, he said.

“Those three islands have the good land and an abundance of fresh water.  Hopefully, one day we will develop those islands for the export market as well as the local market,” he said.

“There is so much we can grow and hopefully we will move to another level of food security with canneries, food packaging and refrigeration.  The sky is the limit.”

Mr Key explained that one of the main reasons for the trip was to check the site of the future BAIC office in Exuma.  He said BAIC will rent space in a building on property owned by the Exuma Foundation in George Town.

The team toured the property and spoke with the Foundation’s manager, Christopher Kettel.

BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key (third from left) looks at little cassava plants grown at the Exuma Foundation.  Also pictured from left: Assistant General Manager, BAIC, Arnold Dorsett; the Foundation’s manager, Christopher Kettel; BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming and BAIC’s Investment Officer, Everette Hart.  (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)The Exuma Foundation exists to support education in all of its aspects on Exuma and to enhance the quality of life there. Established in 1998 with a gift from the Benjamin Family Foundation, it is a U.S. non-profit community foundation that raises funds and issues grants to fulfil its mission.

The Foundation has allowed the Government to operate a school for special needs children on its premises as well as it supports the community by acting as a resource centre.  It also has a trail and reservation and vegetable and fruits trees are grown on the property.

Mr Key said BAIC would like to partner with the Foundation in creating spaces for greenhouses and other projects.

The team also visited the L N Coakley Senior High School to observe land being used by the agriculture students to raise pigs and grow crops like broccoli.  They also spoke with the instructors to find out what they need to keep the class afloat.

They also visited a structure, which they hoped to refurbish for use by the Exuma Farmers’ Association.

 BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key (front) and BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming inspect the building being considered for refurbishment for the Exuma Farmers’ Association.  Due to the poor state of the building, Mr Key said it maybe more advantageous to rebuild. (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)But Mr Key said, “We looked the old house there and it looked as if it deteriorated to such a point it may cost more than it is worth to repair; it maybe less expensive to replace the building.”

The Association represents the Exuma farmers and Ms Ferguson its president explained that cleared land for farming has already been acquired through BAIC, which was also responsible for its creation.

The Corporation has also provided $20,000 in funding that went towards fertilizers and insecticides and there are more funds to come, said Ms Ferguson.

Exuma farmers plant crops such as onions, peppers, Irish potatoes, corn, cabbages and bananas.

However, she did admit that Exuma farmers could use equipment to help them cultivate and clear land.

“After farming land for a while, the soil gets harder to till and equipment like I saw in Andros would be helpful to us,” Ms Ferguson said.

 President of the Exuma Farmers’ Association stands in front of a greenhouse at the Exuma Foundation. (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)Photo 1: BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming (far right) talks to L N Coakley Senior High School agriculture instructor, Wayne Ashley (far left) about the school’s program and what it needs in order to survive and grow.  Also pictured from left in the front of the greenhouse on the school’s farmland is Assistant General Manager, BAIC, Arnold Dorsett and BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key.  (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)

Photo 2: BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key (far right) discusses with BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming plans for BAIC’s office space on the Exuma Foundation property. The Government will be renting the space from the Foundation.  Also pictured is BAIC’s Investment Officer, Everette Hart, and President of the Exuma Farmers’ Association, Althea Ferguson. (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)

Photo 3: BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key (third from left) looks at little cassava plants grown at the Exuma Foundation.  Also pictured from left: Assistant General Manager, BAIC, Arnold Dorsett; the Foundation’s manager, Christopher Kettel; BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming and BAIC’s Investment Officer, Everette Hart.  (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)

BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key talks with 92-year-old Adline Rolle about this year’s onion farming season in Exuma. (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)Photo 4: BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key (front) and BAIC’s General Manager, Benjamin Rahming inspect the building being considered for refurbishment for the Exuma Farmers’ Association.  Due to the poor state of the building, Mr Key said it maybe more advantageous to rebuild. (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)

Photo 5: President of the Exuma Farmers’ Association stands in front of a greenhouse at the Exuma Foundation. (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)

Photo 6: BAIC’s Executive Chairman, Edison Key talks with 92-year-old Adline Rolle about this year’s onion farming season in Exuma. (BIS photo/Llonella Gilbert)