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|Nassau Guardian: Preparing Bahamian Farmers for FTAA|
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|Posted by:||May 21st 2003, 11:12:03 am|
|Fig Tree News Team||May 20, 2003 - 21:55
Strachan: Government Should Prepare Local Farmers For FTAA
Bahamas not ready to compete in the global marketplace, says farmer
The Government should help local farmers prepare the country for the emergence of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) should The Bahamas become a signatory, advocated local farmer and entrepreneur P.A. Strachan on Monday.
Popular for his Pick 'N Pay business which markets fruits and vegetables grown on his three farms, Mr. Strachan said with the evolution of globalisation on world economies, The Bahamas must stimulate the maintenance and development of a diversity of land uses and farming practices to achieve rural sustainability.
"If we are going to compete with them, we must have the kind of crops that match them, and comes in a shorter time. The Bahamas needs to get its act together," he said.
"We're in Revelation time. They must do something. We need food energy now. Don't be like the crow which just begin to build its nest when the rain come; and don't start something when it already drop on our heads. We need to prepare, for God's sake. It's right around the corner," Mr. Strachan said.
While he is not looking for a handout from the Government, he says the Government needs to empower the farmers economically, which will ultimately result in the sustenance of Bahamians.
Mr. Strachan said that The Bahamas is not ready to join the FTAA and compete in the global marketplace.
The Governments past and present instead should have processing plants in place for the processing and distribution of crops and fish locally as opposed to importing goods, and paying foreigners to package our local goods.
"It is wrong. They have to wait until the foreigners come and take it out instead of us capitalising on it. It is wrong. We should have had somewhere to process those fish and package it and have people trying to sell it all over the world," he said.
"Countries such as The Bahamas which had bank secrecy laws, and served as a major economic tool for economic growth has been eroded and dismantled by powerful nations such as the United States and Europe.
This new forced agreement on small nations resulted in economic collapse and enslavement to large economies," said Mr. Strachan.
"There is no need for persons to come to The Bahamas to put monies into their accounts, forcing them to pay taxes," he said.
He gave members of the press a tour of one of his Bacardi Road farms, on which a plethora of crops are grown including cabbage, corn, onions, peas, peppers, watermelons, pigeon peas, pineapples, cantaloupe potatoes.
The farmer also breeds chicken, pigs and cattle.
All of his products are organically grown, said Mr. Strachan proudly boasted that he uses no chemicals to grow his crops, or rear his livestock and poultry.
He said that organic farming focuses on building up organic matter in the soil to make it fertile, whereas chemical farming only puts three chemical elements back into the soil but very little organic matter.
He said that rich fertile soil is not only imperative for increased production but also it is necessary for increased health.
"This is what The Bahamas needs to do to live healthy. No one in the world could tell you where AIDS comes from. No one could tell you where SARS comes from. You don't know if it is coming from the type of things you eat. I stop eating chicken five years ago. I eat organically grown chicken," he said.
"The Government must be more constructive. I am going on the philosophy of The Bible. It's never too late, and at least you can establish something or save something. The time is now, still. I said under the old PLP, I said it under the FNM and now am I saying it under the new PLP. If you say you're new, we need to see something new," said Mr. Strachan.
By Vanessa C. Rolle, The Nassau Guardian
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