Spongers in Andros are set to benefit from local resurgance in the sponging industry, thanks to a project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the governmrnt, which is focused on boosting economic growth and generating economic benefits.
The project's total cost is an estimated $1.11 million. It has a "C" classification in the environmental and social impact category of the IDB, which means that its operation is likely to cause minimal to zero negative environmental and associated social impact.
IDB team members visited The Bahamas recently for discusssions about moving the project forward.
In an email sent to Guardian Business yesterday, Senior Specialist of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) Wayne Beecher said, "The MIF is pleased to partner with the government of The Bahamas tosupport and revitalization of the sponging industry, as a part of a wider effort to leverage the natural capital of The Bahamas, to stimulate inclusive economic growth, while sustaining its environment and improving the lives of the stakeholders engaged in the industry.
Beecher pointed out that emphasis is to be placed on creating market linkages that will improve the efficiency of the "value chain", and subsequently deliver greater value to the approximately 200 spongers in Andros and domestic and international partners through a more closely integrated supply chain.
According to an IDB memorandum, "The use of sponges is increasing, and sponges are now used in cosmetic, medical, pharmaceutical and chemical products."
In 2011, the value of sponges exported from The Bahamas equaled US $450,000. As recently as 2006, sponge exports totaled US $1,065,000.
The Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corporation was selected as the executing agency for the project.
(Source: The Nassau Guardian)