Bahamian Cooperatives in ‘Strategic Position’, says Minister

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June 17, 2010

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Cooperatives in The Bahamas are in a strategic position to utilise the opportunities of a more open Bahamian economy to the advantage of its membership, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. Lawrence Cartwright said, on June 17, 2010.

“At a time when some people feel that they are too small to take advantage of the investment potential in the economy, cooperatives offer these individuals strength through the amalgamation of their investment efforts,” Minister Cartwright said.

He was addressing the second National Cooperative Congress Forum, held at the British Colonial Hilton.  The event brought together the leaders of the Cooperative Movement to examine and “define the path, the roadmap” for development of the sector, Minister Cartwright said.

The liberalisation of trade in the agriculture and fisheries sectors will present enormous opportunities for fishermen and farmers that go beyond catching fish or producing a crop, he added.

“The Cooperative organisation for the agriculture and fisheries sectors in 2010 has to go beyond joint purchases of fertiliser, feed and freezer space,” Minister Cartwright said.  “From a strategic perspective the Cooperative of 2010 must be involved in the marketing, warehousing and manufacture of farm and fisheries products.

“Processing, packaging, labeling and distribution network components are integral parts in these sectors and those communities that can organise themselves to address the demands of the new marketplace will reap the benefits.”

Minister Cartwright said that the small group of banana or onion farmers in Abaco, Long Island, Grand Bahama or Andros, for example, that grow those crops independently, but use common ripening, drying and shipping facilities into New Providence is the beginning of the type of cooperative organisation that needs to be developed in all Bahamian islands.

“The benefits from cooperatives are obvious – production costs are lower through the joint purchase of inputs, the capacity of the ripening machinery is effectively ultilised, making the cost of gassing a box of bananas cheaper than if the unit was used by a single individual at half of its capacity,” he said.

Minister Cartwright pointed out that perhaps the most important of that is distribution.

He said that efforts made at the field level to ensure quality, pays dividends to the individual farmer who demonstrates to the buyer that, jointly, the cooperative can deliver a large volume of a consistently good quality product.  This “fits in nicely” with the cluster concept and is ideal for supplying hotels, restaurants and wholesalers, Minister Cartwright added.

“This type of cooperative effort at the major junctures of production, marketing and distribution can be repeated in the livestock, handicraft, fisheries and service sectors,” Minister Cartwright said.

“This is particularly urgent when the monetary benefits to be gained of local seafood, mutton, handicraft and horticulture are being lost to imports due to the lack of organisation and the need for small investments in equipment to guarantee a product of consistent quality to the consumer.”

News date : 06/17/2010    Category : Press Releases

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