PRESS RELEASE Michael A. Foulkes, M.P. Executive Chairman, BAIC 8th January 2019
Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Year-End 2018 Review
The year 2018 has been challenging for many Bahamians, as it has been for us here at the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC).
On 4th January, 2018, I joined the Corporation as its Executive Chairman along with the new Deputy Chairman, Bishop Gregory Collie.
Finances — Indebtedness
When we arrived at the Corporation, we immediately found that its finances were in dire straits and the Corporation was on life-support with debts due and owing at the time totaling $3,122,885. We later discovered that it exceeded that amount. Our cash position for the entirety of the Corporation was a meager $20,000+ on hand with about 200 employees and operations in six Family Islands and New Providence.
I will deal with some of the specifics. We met the Employee Group Medical Insurance Coverage in a suspended status being four months in arrears for a total of $385,000.
The Corporation had 34 Increment Assessments that were completed but not reviewed by Management. Some employees’ review took place months prior, which meant that back pay was due to them that they had not received.
BAIC’s United States livestock supplier for the Feed Mill it operates – Walpole Company – had due and owing $65,000.
We met the Corporation deducting the NIB funds from employees’ checks – their portion – but not paying the deducted funds to NIB for almost five years. The total due and owing at the time was just under $700,000. Also, the Corporation’s portion that was due and owing was in excess of $1 million.
We met a bill for Family Island farmers of $31,000 in January 2018. We have since paid that amount and have been current as to our monthly schedule every month throughout 2018 with few exceptions. We should add, that the number of Family Island farmers in the Pop-Up Farmers Market has grown from under 100 in January to more than 200 by year-end!
Finances – Debts Paid
We are pleased to report that, a year later, the total amount now due and owing went from the $3,122,885 to $2,573,280.50, reduced by $549,604.50. We are grateful to Hon. Renward Wells, then Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, for advocating for the funds, which were paid to the Corporation by the Bahamas Government in the amount of $500,000. We also thank the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon. K. Peter Turnquest, and Dr. the Most Hon. Hubert A. Minnis, Prime Minister, for their gracious support.
The cash on hand on 28th December, 2018 (the last full business day) went from $20,000 plus in January, 2018, to $138,338.26 – an improvement of almost seven-fold or 700%! And, we anticipate by this Friday, 11th January, 2019, our cash on hand will be around $250,000.
At the end of 2018, we are pleased to report that the Employee Group Medical Insurance Coverage is current! We have paid the full amount that was in arrears in January 2018, in the amount of $385,000 and we have paid the amount every month in full, thereby today, owing nothing! We will only have to pay the bill for January 2019, when it becomes due!
As to the Employee Increments, remember that in January 2018, we met 34 files completed and awaiting review by management plus we had the January monthly increments too. Well, again, we are pleased to report that all increments — those we met in January and all of those that came due throughout the year with the exception of December — have all been processed and paid including any and all back pay that was due and owing for all employees of the Corporation!
We are pleased to report that our livestock feed supplier, Walpole Company, which was owed $65,000 in January 2018, is now current. We have paid the outstanding $65,000 and we have paid each month’s order when it came due.
Regarding the employee NIB payments, while we have not been able to pay the amount taken from employees’ checks for the most part since 2012, which amounts to $700,000, we have, every month since January, 2018, paid the amount deducted from employees’ checks to date and paid same to NIB on their behalf. Today, the Corporation owes nothing to NIB for the deductions from employees’ checks!
Further, it is our fervent hope that this year, with the assistance of the Government, we will pay the amount that was deducted from employees’ checks since 2012 for the most part, but not paid to NIB. As regards, the current BAIC’s portion, we will work towards commencing payment of that amount and, of course, the $1 million that was never paid by the former government.
Pop-Up Farmers Market
We are pleased to report that we commenced the Pop-Up Farmers Market on Saturday, 27th January, 2018, at Gladstone Road, which has become, over the course of the year, our main location.
On that first day, we made only $1,100, but we were not discouraged, we believed that our initiative was a good one and that it would take hold. As the saying goes from the movie, A Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come”. Well, in February 2018, a full month of Saturdays, we had revenue of only $7,700. But again, we were not discouraged and we saw a glimmer of hope, as the sales did increase. By September 2018, our revenue for the month was $39,934.
For the entire year total revenue was $271,823, all cash sales, totally new funds in the Corporation and all essentially from a new business. We were at Gladstone Road for a total of 46 Saturdays. We popped up on 17 occasions in New Providence and twice in Grand Bahama.
We indicated in our press release of 5th November, 2018, that we anticipated annual revenues of $250,000 but by 7th December, 2018, we reported that we had already surpassed that, taking in $253,617.91.
We are further pleased to report that our final Pop-Up Farmers Market annual revenue for 2018 is $271,823! Given our success in 2018, we are forecasting annual revenue of $350,000 in 2019 or about a 30% increase.
We are also pleased to report that our primarily Family Island farmers’ payments for the 2018 calendar year totaled $198,430. We note that the farmers’ payments are current through last month and we are pleased to report that the Family Island farmers received a check from BAIC every month in 2018, with few exceptions!
We are pleased to report that we did, as anticipated, achieve our goal of doubling our Facebook Page likes in 2018. On 1st January 2018 we had 2,503 likes on our page and by 31st December, 2018, we had 5,025, thereby more than doubling the number of likes in 12 short months. We fully expect that by the end of this year our likes will be more than 7,500. We say a special thank you to all who took the time go to our page and hopefully saw some of the many inspiring videos. It is our hope that our page will continue to serve our customers.
Expressions of Gratitude
We thank our Customers, in fact, tens of thousands of them in 2018 for their support of our Pop- Up Farmers Market at Gladstone Road; many of them patronize it each week. And, of course our 19 Pop-Ups including importantly, our last, at the Seventh Day Adventist Church site of the old Bahamas Academy School on Wulff Road; this was our first Sunday Pop-Up! We look forward to returning there on a regular basis.
We also thank our Family Island farmers. Indeed, we are most grateful to them, because they have truly made the Pop-Up Farmers Market a reality. We would not have a Market, if we did not source the fresh, affordable and high quality produce from them – every week! We thank them for their patience and their understanding, as they are true partners in every sense of the word. We look forward to enhancing our partnership with them in 2019 and beyond.
We also thank the media, as they too have been critical in helping us get the word out about the Pop-Up Farmers Market so that families could take advantage of the high quality produce, always fresh, affordably priced, always Bahamian grown and easily accessible.
We thank the management and staff here at BAIC who have exemplified dedication and commitment throughout 2018. Without them we would not have achieved the success we had at the Farmers Market. They have been there for the 46 Saturdays at Gladstone Road ready to start at 8am and at the 19 Pop-Ups in New Providence and Grand Bahama. We thank them warmly for a job well done!
We thank the Board of Directors throughout 2018 for being steadfast in their commitment and dedication to the statutory mandate of the Corporation and its strategic vision.
Charity in 2019
As this year unfolds, we hope and pray by God’s grace that we will be able to enhance our outreach to charitable organizations in our community that serve those who are less fortunate.