Romeo Josey

Imagine ambling through an orchard while on vacation; seeing exotic fruits in full bloom and experiencing a learning odyssey about how they are harvested. Then picture yourself strolling back to your vacation home on the same captivating expanse of property.

For Romeo Josey, this vision is not so far-fetched. It’s a dream he has had since he was a student in the Agritourism class at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) in North Andros. In June 2016 Romeo earned the distinction of being a member of the historic first Commencement Class and graduated with an Associate of Science Degree in Agriculture.

Since then his passion for agritourism and the boutique hotels he envisions owning in the Family Islands has only deepened.

“My dream is to help The Bahamas recognize its vast potential in agriculture and marine sciences,” says the Marketing Assistant, currently employed with BAMSI. “Agritourism is a huge opportunity and it can really bring in a lot of money. Bahamians speak about diversifying the economy and this is one way to do it.”

Romeo and his classmates spent two years at the living-learning environment. As an ASc. Agriculture major, he learnt about soil science, agriculture, chemistry, communication and genetics and acquired other competencies. It was his first time living away from his family, a phenomenal opportunity for educational and personal growth.

“I decided to come to BAMSI because I felt like it would have been patriotic of me to do something like that, to come to a place in my own backyard where my government is trying to get things started in terms of agriculture in the country. First of all, it’s my dream and if I want the dream to be realized then why not come to an institution in my country where I can learn and have an understanding of agriculture?”

Strategically located on the largest island in the Bahamian archipelago, in Andros, with many acres of arable land, BAMSI is approximately seven and a half miles south of the San Andros Airport. The Institute is revolutionizing the agricultural and marine sectors in The Bahamas by creating entrepreneurial opportunities and promoting community development for the benefit of all Bahamians.

What is more, BAMSI represents a paradigm shift in governmental strategy towards greater food security in The Bahamas. By focusing on producing foods locally, the country can become less reliant on foreign imports and reduce food prices over the long-term. It is fertile ground for teaching, learning, commercialization and research.

Strolling through rows of crops at the BAMSI farm in March, Romeo could not help but smile at the memories of his pre-dawn, open air classes. Those experiences have left an indelible mark.

“I learnt how to marry the science and the art of agriculture because aging farmers knew the art. My grandparents knew how to produce pumpkins and bananas but they did not know what were the agents involved,” says Romeo, who will soon commence his appointment as a resident staff member with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Andros.

Officials have reported that The Bahamas spends approximately a billion dollars annually on food imports into the country. But the challenge is one which the operation in Andros is aimed at reversing by resuscitating and reviving once robust industries to create a modern and prosperous Bahamas.

BAMSI President and Bahamas Ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Dr. Godfrey Eneas looks forward to the impact that BAMSI will have on The Bahamas.

“What we are doing today will benefit families throughout The Bahamas in the future. We are changing mindsets and approaches to age old industries, revolutionizing the system to develop further capacity for growth,” he says.

“The farmers who work with us at BAMSI are important to the process, the students who are learning agriculture and marine science are the future entrepreneurs and teachers of tomorrow and the new knowledge that will be produced through research will impact policies and other decisions regarding our food production and our marine ecosystems.”

Romeo could not agree with him more.

“It helps us to reform and focus as to where we should go in terms of helping our economy become all that we can become,” he says.

The impact will be felt for generations to come.

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