February 11, 2019
The Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) on Tuesday made a major step toward revamping its business operations and securing a stable economic model for the Institute when it welcomed more than a half dozen potential partners and industry stakeholders to its North Andros agricultural facility.
Given the task of rightsizing the Institute and streamlining operations and expenditure, President of the Institute Tennyson Wells has devised a new marketing platform.
The new strategy is being put in place in a bid to transform the Institute’s current economic trajectory to one of positive, stable growth based on the adoption of industry best practices, the use of technological innovation, an educated and fully trained staff and increased fiscal responsibility.
Representatives from top hotels, large retail grocery stores, restaurant food chains and wholesalers were brought in to see firsthand how the North Andros facility is run, what farm practices are in place, to assess the quality of the produce in the ground and whether the forecasted yields were accurate projections.
The group toured the research and tutorial farm, the livestock division, the aquaponics centre, packing house and Morgan’s Bluff docking facility.
“Our new focus will be on forming relationships with the wholesale sector and industry stakeholders, such as large hotels and restaurants,” Mr. Wells said.
“The purpose of this tour is to offer potential partners and stakeholders a first-hand view of BAMSI’s facilities. Our hope is that this trip will reinforce our ability and commitment to selling select, quality items on a scheduled basis.”
BAMSI’s new operational model calls for potential buyers to contract for certain produce based on the Institute’s ability to offer forecasted yields, and also ensure the quality and quantity of produce are in line with industry standards.
At present, the Institute brings to market approximately a dozen individual crops, ranging from the ‘Bahamian Trio” of tomato, sweet pepper and onions, to broccoli, cauliflower, okra, pumpkin and zucchini.
Mr. Wells said the farm staff was working with an agricultural consultant to research a number of variables that could positively impact sales, including a new grading system and identifying the true cost of production.
Farm Coordinator Stephen Adderley said “We are currently looking at the cost of production for crops so that we can determine the feasibility of growing that crop because at the end of day it’s about the dollars. Crops that have a problem making a profit, we can either change our growing practices, utilize new technology that would change the production cost or eliminate that crop from rotation entirely.”
According to Mr. Adderley, many countries import food items that are too costly to produce. He used Canada as an example, reporting that the North American country imports a lot of its onions, particularly during the winter season, because the crop is just too expensive to produce during that time. The imported crops are simply stored until they are sold to the consumer.