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Monday, April 10, 2006 

Farmers need to streamline options

Guardian Staff Reporter

All hope is not lost for farmers facing the challenges of obtaining technology, capital and transportation required for their businesses. According to one successful businessman, it was possible to overcome these hurdles.

Market segmentation has to be a consideration for farmers who need to identify a core group of crops said Earl Deveaux, a former Minister of Agriculture and presently a Senior Executive of Lucayan Tropical Produce, the first company to introduce hydroponics techniques for large scale commercial production in The Bahamas.

He said government support and partnership in providing the appropriate infrastructure, including technical assistance, was also essential in helping these farmers faced with a myriad of challenges to get their businesses up and running.

With this in place Mr Deveaux said farmers could take huge advantage of vendors that would be willing to purchase quality produce from them with the potential of netting millions of dollars in produce sales.

"It all depends on how successful you are at replacing what people are already eating," said Mr Deveaux.

He encouraged farmers to identify what they were good at and concentrate their efforts on those things and place less emphasis on the challenges which he said could have an adverse affect on the success of the business.

"Don't fight the transportation, poor credit or inadequate capital [obstacles] or take on all those battles at one time and expect to make a success," said Mr Deveaux. He believes what is key for farmers to remember is to "streamline their options".

However, Mr Deveaux said that The Bahamas had to look to other countries as a model for addressing some of its own issues.

When asked whether he felt the agricultural industry was moving in the right direction, Mr Deveaux said candidly, "no it isn't."
According to him, "We are stagnating now and moving in reversal. That doesn't mean there are not opportunities for growth or recovery, but we're not going in the right direction now."

Copyright © 2006 The Nassau Guardian. All rights reserved.

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