Lucayan Tropical Produce has agreed to purchase 400 cases of green peppers from North Andros farmers each week for the remainder of the season, sales manager Roger Rolle confirmed

“Once we have this worked out, then we will move on to other produce as well,” he said.

Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) executive chairman Edison M Key said he was “very encouraged” by the move. “We see Andros not only as a breadbasket of The Bahamas but also as providing opportunities whereby Bahamians can earn a decent living,” he said.

Lucayan Tropical, operators of an extensive hydroponics farm in New Providence, is providing farmers with seedling. Along with North Andros farmers’ liaison officer Eric Lightbourne, a plan is being worked out to ensure staggered harvests, said Mr Rolle.

“We do not want a glut and we do not want a situation where everyone has it for three months and then stop,” he said. “We are working on consistency.

“We will move the product to New Providence where the market can absorb it quite easily. We will pay for the shipping. We will provide the packaging, and we will sell it. We just need farmers to grow it consistently.

“We will use the same grading standards that the US uses for peppers, so the quality will be good.”

Rather than depending solely on the government’s packinghouses to purchase their products, BAIC has encouraged farmers to work directly with New Providence buyers.

“We have visited the farms, we have seen the product, we see the potential,” said Mr. Rolle. “We realize that they need some assistance especially in organizing.

“This model of the 400 cases of green peppers we are going to take every week is just a start. Once we have this worked out, then we will move on to other produce as well.

“We will give them a fair price because we are all in the business of making money. We do not intend to exploit one another. It is a co-operative and I know that we can make it work.”

North Andros Farmers Association president Cecil Gaitor said they were grateful to BAIC and Lucayan Tropical and other buyers “for their expression of confidence in us.”

“We will do the very best we can to produce the finest product,” he said.