SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, CMC- The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) says it will be assisting The Bahamas in implementing programmes to increase food production, reduce the import bill and improve agricultural health and food safety.
Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government Minister Alfred Gray has been holding talks at the IICA headquarters here in order to adjust the organization’s projects to the policies adopted by the Perry Christie government.
IICA Director General, Víctor M. Villalobos, said he had placed the institute’s technical capabilities at Gray’s disposal, and informed him that regional projects were already under way related to agricultural health, agribusiness, and market information, among other topics.
“With respect to the improvement of food production, the objective will be to implement initiatives whose impact will be felt in the short term, and that make it possible to lower the import bill. We have access to the international research centers, germplasm, crop improvement techniques, and other tools on which we will draw to promote agriculture in The Bahamas,” Villalobos said.
Gray said that one of the main challenges facing his country was how to make agriculture a more attractive option, especially to young people.
“We do not have a developed agricultural sector; we produce only 10 per cent of what we consume. But we are growing gradually and hope that IICA’s presence in The Bahamas will help us make further progress,” he said.
IICA is already implementing activities related to several of the areas mentioned by the Gray and recently, two specialists were sent to work on the modernization of the national agricultural health system, and a market information specialist will be undertaking a mission to the country within the next few days.
Gray expressed interest in a small ruminants programme that IICA will be implementing with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
An IICA statement said that Gray has also sought the institute’s assistance with the equipping of a laboratory for plant, animal, and food safety analyses, as well as information on bio-energy.
A meeting to discuss Costa Rica’s agricultural sector
During his visit here, Gray met with his Costa Rican counterpart Gloria Abraham and visited the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE).