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House: plans to expand farming, fishing

Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier (File photograph)

The Government is considering expanding Bermuda’s potential for farming and fishing, Walter Roban told the House of Assembly today.A study will be carried out on opportunities for “under produced but locally desired produce”, while the Government will also promote home growing opportunities and increase the use of arable land.It is also looking at new regulations to manage aquaculture and other fisheries-related initiatives under the Blue Economy Strategy.Mr Roban told MPs: “The Government will be exploring all opportunities to assist our local food providers, as well as encourage home growers to maximise local food production.“The Ministry of Home Affairs is currently working on a number of initiatives to increase our local food security, which I will look forward to presenting to this Honourable House in the next several months.”The Deputy Premier said farmers were able to sell directly to grocery stores during shelter in place after a good growing season.But he warned production would wind down in the hotter months and cause “a dearth of local vegetables between July and September”.Mr Roban also noted there had been a spike in thefts from farmer’s fields in recent weeks, and that the stolen produce was being sold on.Officers for the Ministry of Home Affairs were ramping up their oversight of fields, he said.Mr Roban said the island’s food supply chain had proven robust and private sector suppliers had been resourceful during the Covid-19 pandemic.He said: “One cannot help but read with concern in the international media headlines reports of food processing plant closures in the US, and wonder how this is going to affect our grocery stores’ shelves. Not in recent memory has our local food security been of greater importance.”The minister said he had communicated regularly with our shippers, wholesalers, grocery store owners and representatives of the commercial farmers and fishermen.He said: “They have been forthcoming with their ideas and efforts to ensure that the essential food products continue to be available. I applaud all their efforts.“The public will, I am sure, have noticed some periodic “gaps” in the shelves and there have been some challenges in securing meat products. However the core products continue to be available, albeit with less varieties of specialty items.”Roadside stands can be in operation from Monday to Saturday, 7am to 9pm. The grocery store surname system does not apply to farmers and fishermen’s roadside stands. To find your nearest location, visit www.environment.bm. Two vendors are allowed per site, sellers and customers must wear face masks, customers must be a minimum of six feet apart; and hand sanitiser must be available for the sellers. • To read Walter Roban’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”