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Agriculture, SBDC announce $1 mil. grant program

Nassau, The Bahamas – September 21st, 2022
By Chester Robards

As the Access Accelerator/Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) marked its fourth anniversary yesterday, it did so by forming a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs to launch a sustainable food growth grant with sums up to $50,000, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Clay Sweeting announced yesterday.

Sweeting said the grant program, which totals $1 million, will be a “game-changing incentive for food production in The Bahamas”.

Since his appointment to the ministry, Sweeting has heralded the need for the country to feed itself and greatly decrease the $1 billion the country spends on food imports each year.

“As you would recall, during the budget debate earlier this year, it was announced that food production would be a top priority for the Davis administration,” said Sweeting.

“We announced that over $1 million would be allocated for grants for fishers and farmers to advance food production in our country, and 30 percent of those funds would be available for poultry farming.

“We know that we face the threats of external forces such as shipping challenges, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, ballooning inflation and not to mention that we remain in a global pandemic.

But all is not lost. The Davis administration recognizes the need to incentivize food production in our country.”

Sweeting called for quick action on food production and contended that the grant program, which will be run by the SBDC, is for farmers, fishers, food producers and agribusiness practitioners.

“These funds can be used to make purchases such as construction services, equipment, insurance, furniture, heavy duty vehicles, supplies and much more,” he said.

“Through this grant, successful applicants will also have access to virtual training that will help their businesses to thrive. They will get the necessary training on food security, emerging trends, post-harvest management, financial reporting and export potential. This grant will help us to make a transformational shift towards obtaining food security in our country. The Bahamas is not living up to its full potential in food production.”

SBDC Interim Executive Director Samantha Rolle said in a press statement on the grant program that the strategic partnership with the ministry is how The Bahamas will make inroads in the fight against food insecurity.

“The Sustainable Food Growth Grant is a holistic initiative to foster value to our economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainability,” said Rolle.

The statement added: “In order to be eligible for the grant, applicants must offer products and services that comply with SBDC’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) policy; employ less than 50 individuals; be 100 per cent Bahamian-owned and provide all required documents.”

Grant said more than 2,000 businesses have been funded through the SBDC, to the tune of more than $70 million in its four years in operation.

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