Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. Lawrence Cartwright led a delegation to Exuma last week to present 89 cheques to assist farmers affected by Tropical Storm Noel in 2007.

“I am so happy this morning to be with you on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas to present to you these cheques,” Minister Cartwright said. “As I said before, it would not be enough money to pay you for all that you would have lost; but it would certainly be a little contribution towards your ambitious efforts and hopefully help you to get on the go again.”

The cheques were part of the Government’s continued assistance package for certified farmers affected throughout The Bahamas. Also included in the programme is the supplying of agricultural supplies such as seeds and heavily discounted plants. Ministry representatives were slated to make more such presentations on Long Island on August 2, 2008 and on Eleuthera the following weekend.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, in its attempt to try and help farmers to get back on their feet has been over the last six months sending out packages – in some islands seeds, in some islands fertilizers and in some islands plants,” Minister Cartwright said.

Minister Cartwright said that farmers in Exuma today have a “golden opportunity” because of the tourism product and the number of tourists who visit the island.

“Now is the time for Exuma to make money off agriculture,” he said. “You have the people here now who need the food.”

Minister Cartwright added that Bahamians and tourists alike need food that is easily obtained locally, especially in light of possible future difficulties of importing foodstuff that might be in short supply.

“One of the best ways for us to get the food we need is to produce it,” he said. “Exuma, you have a golden opportunity to provide food for your people, as well as to make a lot of money. Go for it.”

Exuma farmer Wesley Ferguson of Farmers Hill said that he appreciated “very much” what the Government did for the farmers on the island.

“It is a great blessing to me as a farmer,” Mr. Ferguson said. “I think it is a great assistance and will help us greatly in Exuma because we have been out of work (on the farms) for a while. The recent droughts and whatnot set us back; but, thank God, this now is a great blessing.”

“It is very good because it is a little help to the people,” said Alice Munnings of Rolleville. “Some of the people lost real badly in their farms. This is a good thing that they do. We appreciate it.”

“It will encourage them to go on,” added Annie Lloyd of Barretarre, speaking on behalf of her mother of the same name.

Livingston Smith of Stuart Manor said Exuma farmers should “feel good” about the assistance.

“Any man in his right mind should feel good anytime somebody comes to help you,” he said. “This is something that they do not have to do; but when you look out for your people, you help them out, which is the best thing to do.”

“Use it to your benefit and it comes from The Bahamas Government and we are happy that we can provide this ‘little pittance’ for you to help you to get started,” Minister Cartwright said.