Agriculture in the Bahamas

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Agriculture in the Bahamas is the third largest pillar of the Economy of the Bahamas, representing between 5 and 7 percent of total GDP. This industry has systematically been declining since its apogee in the 1910's and 20's. The sector was gravely impacted by the Smoot-Hawley Tarrif implemented in the United States of America as a protectionist solution to the Great Depression of 1929. The same resulted in Bahamian agricultural products (mainly pineapple, tomato and citrus) being outsoruced to US territories -for example, Hawaii, began to ramp up the production of Pineapples as a response to the increase in cost of importing the Bahamian version.

Today farming and agro-industrial production is carried out on relatively minute acreages on nearly all islands and are of a relatively subistence nature. Only about 1% of the land area is cultivated. The nature of the terrain can also be seen a challenge to a broadening of the scope of farming, which remains mainly a household industry. The main crops are common vegetables: onions, okra, and tomatoes, the last two raised mainly for export. Inadequate production has provoked the import of an estimated 80% of the islands’ food supply.

Among steps the government has taken to expand and improve agriculture is the reserving of 450,000 acres (1,821 km2) exclusively for farming, 20,000 acres (81 km2) of which were converted for the purpose of fruit farming. Export-oriented orange, grapefruit, and cucumber production occurs on Abaco. Agricultural products in 2004 included 55,500 tons of sugar cane, 13,000 tons of grapefruit, 8,700 tons of lemons and limes, 5,000 tons of tomatoes, and 880 tons of sweet potatoes. The Governent of the Bahamas has also launched an Agricultural and Marine Sciences Indistute on the island of Andros, as a way of attracting more citizens to study in agronomic, agro-industrial and subsistence fields. To date, however, there has been little success in butressing the agricultural product of the country and any significant development regarding the same is expected to be very gradual in nature.

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