Abaco, Bahamas – A Chinese company has moved a step closer to signing a letter of intent to do large scale farming in Abaco.
A team of experts from China’s agriculture-based Shandong Province visited Abaco last weekend to take soil and water samples and do further scientific studies to determine the capability of the land.
They were hosted by Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) which owns about 10,500 acres of farm land in central and north Abaco.
BAIC’s Executive Chairman Edison M Key looked towards canneries, factories, packing houses and facilities that complement food production being established in the islands should this project come to fruition.
Abaco has been home to a number of successful fruit and vegetables farms, one of which was operated in part by Mr Key.
The eight-member Chinese team was headed by Zhang Jingping of China’s Shandong International Economic and Technical Cooperation Corporation and Shandong Hi-Speed Qila Build Group.
The agriculture experts included Professor Wang Fahong, PhD, of the Crop Research Institute, Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He is also an expert in modern agricultural technical systems and an advisor to the Chinese Government on wheat production in Shandong.
Aided by the Chinese Government, the Shandong Hi-Speed Group is carrying out construction of the national stadium in New Providence. It is slated for completion in June 2011.
“Abaco land is very beautiful,” said Mr Jingping, through an interpreter. “It is beyond my imagination.
“Here we see many favorable signs for agricultural development – for example, the sunshine, the water, and the soil. We are very interested.
“We hope that with this research we can reach an agreement and co-operate on agriculture projects.”
BAIC’s team included General Manager Benjamin Rahming, Assistant General Manager (property management) Judith Thompson, Assistant General Manager (agriculture) Arnold Dorsett, and Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture representative for The Bahamas, Dr Marikis Alvarez.
The Chinese delegation visited farm sites, the Big Bird chicken operation, the ports, the proposed craft centre and farmers’ market site, and the Treasure Cay Resort.
“We had a fruitful visit,” said Mr Key, the Member of Parliament for South Abaco. “They want to do a study to see the possibility of developing and supporting the agricultural sector in The Bahamas. They are talking about a very large project.”
He noted that Bahamians import some $500 million in food products each year. “So there is a possibility of creating a very large industry in food production for the local and export markets,” said Mr Key.
“We talked about beef, we talked about milk, we talked about cheese, mutton, pork – and these are items that we import. Why can’t we produce them right here at home?
“This project will be a big plus for Bahamians, to be able to access the modern technology the Chinese have to offer us. I trust everything will work out for us as we work towards feeding ourselves.”
Mr Key said the Chinese embassy in Nassau has been “very supportive of BAIC. We have built up an excellent relationship.”