New Exuma packing house an ‘economic boost’
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Oct 24, 2013
GREAT EXUMA – Construction on a packing house that is intended to be an “economic boost” for Exuma farmers could begin before the end of the year, Guardian Business can confirm.
The proposed structure has been designed for farmers to sell their freshly grown produce before it is distributed. It will be built in Mount Thompson, Great Exuma.
Minister of Agriculture V. Alfred Gray told Guardian Business that constructing the packing house on Exuma has “been a long time coming”.
He admitted the process has been delayed but tenders are expected to go out in approximately two weeks. Originally, officials at the Ministry of Works and the Department of Town Planning projected the building would cost $1 million.
But Gray confirmed that those plans had to be scaled back.
“We felt that we were not willing to put $1 million into the building. We didn’t believe that we needed all of that space. There will always be room for expansion. But in the beginning, we are looking at what is presently going on, and we want to match that rather than just have a large facility. It would be wasted money and wasted space,” he said.
The new packing house will be more than 25,000 square feet in size and will be outfitted with state-of-the-art machines like grating, waxing and yellow machines. Gray believes this building will be a great asset to local farmers.
“As people farm, we will put in what we need to put in to make sure that the quality of the produce is enhanced by what is in the packing house. But more importantly, it will provide an economic boost to the farmers as they will depend on the packing house as at least one source of selling their produce,” he told Guardian Business.
Currently, The Bahamas produces only 10 percent of the food it consumes and the country remains challenged to make agriculture an attractive option.
Gray was the keynote speaker at TCL’s 8th annual Exuma Business Outlook that was held at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort.