Funding for Phase 1 of the Agricultural Service Centre

“It is exciting to realise the start of this critical project..” said Minister of Home Affairs, Walter Roban today, confirming the allocation of $500,000 in the 2024/25 Budget for the much-awaited Agricultural Service Centre. “Once completed, the new centre will continue to support our local farming sector and strengthen Bermuda’s food security.”

Housed in a one-hundred-plus-year-old warehouse building, the existing Centre on Schools Drive in Prospect plays a critical role in supporting our local farming sector. The Centre provides several essential agriculture-related services for registered farmers, including subsidised chill room storage for locally grown crops, ice supply for farmers and fishermen, packaging material for crops, banana ripening, and sale of pesticide chemicals and seeds.

Unfortunately, the aged structure has a large, failing asbestos cement roof that does not capture rainwater. Furthermore, the building, cold storage rooms, and refrigeration units continually need emergency repairs to keep their services operational and are nearing the end of their service life. The Minister continued: “We recognise the needs of our farmers and the overall agricultural community’s longstanding request to modernise the facility, and we are committed to delivering a site that is fit for purpose.

This project will provide a new energy-efficient and sustainable facility to house the functions currently provided by the existing Centre, including critical storage for the island’s locally produced crops. The proposed solution will incorporate conservation strategies, environmental sensitivity, renewable energy, and the latest practices in storing perishables while offering the most efficient and cost-effective service levels and maximising revenue opportunities.”

The $500,000 allocation represents the first phase of a capital development that will eventually cost approximately $13,500,000. The first phase will involve:

  • preparing the new site,
  • finalising the contract, and,
  • completing emergency repairs to the existing Centre to ensure no break in service or support while construction of the new facility is underway.

A Ministry spokesman confirmed that the planning phase of the project is well-advanced. Planning and building permits are approved; Brunel Engineering Consultants Ltd have completed a detailed project design, and an estimate of $13,517,000 for the work has been obtained. Construction of the facility is estimated to take 18 months.

Minister Roban said: “The Government is committed to assisting our local farming community. In addition to the services provided at the Agricultural Services Center, farmers also enjoy reduced payroll taxes, requiring only the employee portion and zero per cent duty on all imports, materials, equipment, seeds, and inspections related to local food production. Furthermore, under the Importation of Fruits, Vegetables and Flowers Act 1961, farmers continue to benefit from the Economic embargo system, which reduces competition from certain foreign products.”

With the integrated agriculture strategy under development, ongoing consultations are helping to identify and prioritise issues impacting the industry and help where possible. While this work is underway, farmer’s more immediate concerns are being addressed.

Minister Roban concluded: “Modernising our agricultural infrastructure is essential to strengthening Bermuda’s food security, providing career opportunities, and contributing to our economy; the Government looks forward to completing this critical development.”

Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful, or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites, or repeats previous comments will be removed.

User comments posted on this website are solely the views and opinions of the comment writer and are not a representation of or reflection of the opinions of TNN or its staff.

TNN reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments.

TNN accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for the comments made by users.