Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
I am delighted to stand before you today to mark this historic groundbreaking for the Golden Yolk project. Historic, because it represents one of the first steps in a marathon toward a more resilient, self-reliant Bahamas.
It has long been lamented that as a nation we import too much of our food – 90% to be precise. Past administrations have marched around the issue, and yet the number still stands tall.
My friends, that all changes now.
Today, I declare that figure is destined to fall faster than the walls of Jericho.
We are ushering in a new age of agriculture. An age of promise and prosperity, an age where we make the most of what we have, in the most sustainable manner possible. This is especially important for low and middle-income families, who are disproportionately affected by ballooning inflation on imported foodstuffs.
In the race for greater food security for The Bahamas, we have already made headway.
We are allocating $500,000 in grants to farmers and an additional $1 million in funding to secure broilers and to support livestock farming.
The Golden Yoke project builds on this commitment to ramping up local food production. Indeed, it goes hand in hand with our pledge to ensure every Bahamian has sufficient access to affordable and nutritious food.
With a vision to slash our import bill by $12.5 million and secure 100% local egg production, the Golden Yolk project is an urgent and crucial undertaking – one that promises to move the needle toward greater food security for our country.
In addition to setting our nation on the path toward food sovereignty, the Golden Yoke project delivers on several commitments outlined in our Blueprint for Change, namely: the creation of jobs, the development of our Family Islands, and the empowerment of Bahamians.
The project’s 3-phase implementation will see the creation of some 90 jobs, over half of which will be based in the Family Islands. These new jobs mean more disposable income for Bahamians, be they from Abaco in the north or Inagua in the south. They also translate to a more robust and diverse economy for our country.
Falling under the purview of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation, this project aims to harness the entrepreneurial spirit of our people, supplanting dependency with self-reliance and innovation. Thirty-eight poultry houses are slated for construction across twelve Family Islands, with a further eight earmarked for New Providence. These sites will increase local egg production 30-fold, injecting an additional $2.3 million into our domestic economy. They will also employ numerous grow house workers, all of whom will be guaranteed a liveable wage.
The action plan of the Golden Yoke project is truly impressive, and it’s nothing less than what we deserve as we chart the way forward.
My friends, imagine going to the food store one morning to buy eggs. Suddenly, you look around, and all the cartons say ‘Made in The Bahamas’. What a day that will be for our archipelago.
We may be a young nation. We may be a small nation. But that does not mean we cannot make big strides toward a goal loftier than ourselves.
We have mastered hospitality, but we should not limit our excellence to tourism alone. We can and must do more, just as we are doing today. More to support our own, and more to make ourselves self-sufficient.
The work of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation in spurring domestic investment, generating employment, and reducing imports, cannot be overstated. Their efforts remain vital for the collective vigour of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
I salute the team behind the Golden Yoke Project for setting us off on the race to becoming a food-secure country.
Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you all at the finish line.