From The Abaconian
December 1, 2009
By Navardo Saunders
Abaconian farms promise hi-tech jobs and lower prices to a group of Chinese investors who are seeking help from other nations to meet the demand to feed China’s fast growing population.
A group of Chinese investors has expressed an interest in investing millions of dollars to help boost production of locally grown produce – a move the government says would see food prices drop dramatically and create high-tech jobs for many Bahamians.
After touring several local farms and designated farm sites on November 13 with local officials, led by Edison Key, Executive Director of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation, the Chinese said they wish to sign a letter of intent with the government to provide local farmers with the resources they need – including money, manpower and equipment – to increase production of crops.
Speaking through an interpreter, Wang Yujun, General Manager of Shandong Hi-Speed Company Ltd., said to be the largest construction and agricultural firm in China, said during lunch at Treasure Cay Resort he was impressed with the crops that are being harvested despite the limited resources.
A delegation of investors from China visited Abaco on November 13 to look into the possibility of developing large scale farming on Abaco. The group was headed by Wang Yujun, General Manager the largest construction and agricultural business in China, in the red striped shirt. They are shown taking soil samples that they will take for testing. Standing is Dr. Marikis Alvarez, Bahamian representative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. The group toured several farms in South Abaco and the abandoned citrus farm in North Abaco.
The letter of intent, mentioned above by Wang Yujun, lead of the Chinese delegation, references the desire to develop extensive farms, supplying equipment, supplies, processing plants, canneries and greenhouses.
Local official Edison Key indicated that the government is interested in partnering with the Chinese to boost production of Bahamian produce in order to slash the country’s annual food importation requirements. The partnership certainly benefits all parties in that the cost of local produce would decrease significantly and the number of hi-tech jobs would increase.
Mr. Key, who once operated a farm, said the goal is to get Abaco to a point where it can feed itself. “We have the land, we have the expertise, now what we’re working on with the Chinese is getting the resources.”
Mr. Ejnar Cornish, Director of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation’s Abaco office (BAIC), who organized and led the Chinese tour, said Abaconians should welcome the Chinese as Bahamians will certainly benefit tremendously through lower produce costs, more jobs, and increased learning opportunities related to the hi-tech job requirements for food processing operations.
Dialogue has continued since the December visit, with groundwork anticipated early this year.