A number of leases for acres of land designated for agricultural use in Abaco and several family islands were signed by the Ministry of Agriculture & Marine Resources on Friday, January 15, 2016 as they work toward the goal of Improving food security in The Bahamas.
Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. V. Alfred Gray said: “We are here this afternoon to highlight progress in making agricultural land available to farmers. As far back as 1977, the land resources survey for The Bahamas indentured 36,148 acres of land suitable for agriculture in The Bahamas.
“The best agricultural land on New Providence, Abaco, Andros, and Grand Bahama has been made available to the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources for lease to farmers for periods of up to 21 years. This land includes 13,869 acres on Andros, 11,737 acres on Abaco and 10,542 acres on Grand Bahama.”
Minister Gray said that since coming to office in 2012, his Ministry has issued 301 leases for plots of agricultural land, ranging from one to 200 acres.
“Today, we will formally sign leases with persons have been granted leases from Abaco, Andros, Grand Bahama, and New Providence. Improving food security in The Bahamas is dependent on implementing a number of initiatives: making land available is one of them,” said Minister Gray.
“In addition to land available from the land unit in the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, land has also been made available to The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Cooperation (BAIC) in their industrial parks for persons interested in value-added activities, such as processing.”
Minister Gray said that since coming to office in 2012, the Land Unit in his Ministry has been involved in a comprehensive exercise to review the process of leasing agricultural land to make this land available to persons involved in crops and livestock production.
“An important part of their work has involved collecting outstanding lease payments and ensuring that persons who occupy agricultural land are using that land for the purposes intended. During 2015, the Ministry has been to court three times to challenge the inappropriate use of agricultural land, through the building of structures,” said Minister Gray.
“My Ministry has been successful in these challenges, and persons, who have constructed housing and commercial buildings on agricultural land, should not, and that legal precedence has been set, and land leased for agriculture, should remain in agriculture.”
Minister Gray extended his best wishes to the farmers who came to sign leases and prayed their agricultural projects move from strength to strength.