The chairman and president of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) thinks a mainstream branch in Grand Bahama would be appropriate.
Speaking exclusively to The Freeport News during an interview earlier this week, Chairman/President Tennyson Wells, said Grand Bahama should be fundamentally linked to BAMSI.
The 800-acre BAMSI primary complex is based in North Andros and focuses on traditional agriculture and marine science, as well as the advanced technical concepts of hydroponics and aquaponics.
BAMSI’s program includes the production of vegetable plants without soil, and also fresh water fish. A creation under the Prime Minister Perry Christie Government, BAMSI, although, considered an excellent idea, has been plagued with one controversy after the other. Millions of dollars have gone into the program with very little meaningful yield.
Presently, the government of the day, is seeking to restructure BAMSI entirely. Chairman Wells points to inconsistencies and inefficiencies in the way BAMSI had been operated.
“BAMSI is an excellent idea and if executed in accordance with the mission statement, will do The Bahamas proud. We are now trying to put structure to it. What had been going on, leaves much to be desired. The controller has been in place for three years and there are no financial statements to be found. I can’t find any. There has been some agriculture production, but the business side of BAMSI has been in a chaos.
“There was no board. BAMSI was run out of a single office. There were too many staffers on salary with no specific duties. We have 282 on staff and I think BAMSI can function with 150, under a proper structure,” said Wells, who during his frontline political career, was a prominent Cabinet Minister. He served as Minister of Agriculture and also as Minister of Transport and Aviation.
“The system was quite irregular. So, that is the fight, to put in a proper template to give good structure to BAMSI,” added Wells.
It is from this backdrop that Grand Bahama could become a chief BAMSI player, with a branch and the need for about 60 employees, inclusive of an administration force, technical persons and laborers.
Wells earmarked a visit to Grand Bahama for some point in October of this year. He acknowledged that presently, BAMSI has officers in Eleuthera, Exuma, Cat Island, Long Island, Inagua and Mayaguana. Responding to the question about the absence of a presence in Grand Bahama, he readily conceded that “there should be a branch in the Second City.”
He expressed a concern though, regarding salt water.
“We will really have to concentrate on salt water resistant products. Sure, there should be a BAMSI presence in Grand Bahama and I have been thinking about that. I am concerned though about the intrusion of salt water. The storms devastated the farming community that was quite vibrant in Grand Bahama. They never really came back.
“I think we would have to look at coconuts as a major crop; short crops; employ a horticulture focus in the way of palms; some citrus; those products that would not be wiped out by the intrusion of salt water.
“I would also like to see a livestock program in Grand Bahama, as well” said Wells.
He pointed out that there was always his intent to bring Grand Bahama significantly into the BAMSI mix. However, he lamented the BAMSI state of affairs when he took over in February and said he and others have been hard pressed to begin bringing regularity to the system.
BAMSI was heralded as the entity that would create great vibrancy to Bahamian agriculture and marine resources and put the country on the road to self-sufficiency. Also, BAMSI was designed and established to be the architect of many employment opportunities, entrepreneurships and also, be a sophisticated training base in agriculture and marine science.