The following Op-Ed was released by Omar Dill, Regional Organizer of the Free Democratic Movement and Registered Farmer

A Free Market Approach to Food Security Bermuda faces a critical challenge with food security. Our reliance on food imports, now over 80 percent and nearing 90 percent, impacts our economic stability and self-sufficiency, making us vulnerable to supply chain disruptions.

Agriculture and fishing have long been integral to our survival and way of life, laying the foundation for Bermuda to become a prosperous jurisdiction. Over the years, however, we’ve lost agricultural fields as the economy shifted to tourism and services, driving up the cost of living and making Bermuda one of the world’s most expensive places.

The Free Democratic Movement (FDM) aims to significantly enhance Bermuda’s food security. This requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the needs of all segments involved in food production and distribution, including large commercial farmers, mid-sized and small-scale farmers, community gardeners, home gardeners, importers, and distributors.

To tackle these issues, the FDM will promote the use of hundreds of acres of unused arable land. Simplifying land use procedures, offering longer leases, and recognizing private sector-led initiatives will encourage investment and make it easier for the average person to enter the agriculture arena. Additionally, we will focus on permanently protecting and preserving our Agricultural Reserve land, ensuring that public land is used for the common good and remains dedicated to agricultural purposes.

The FDM will advocate for a more transparent and accountable decision-making process in land use and development. This includes seeking advice from local experts and specialized stakeholders to ensure that decisions support local food production and reflect the interests of the community. Additionally, we will establish policies to eliminate harmful chemicals like glyphosate, ensuring safe and sustainable practices.

We must strike the right balance between economic growth and farmland preservation to ensure that arable land is protected and never used for construction. Additionally, all public lands will incorporate edible plants instead of focusing solely on plants grown for decorative purposes, with places like Tulo Valley Plant Nursery serving as nurseries to support these edible landscapes. These changes will boost local food production and ensure these spaces directly contribute to Bermuda’s food security.

To enhance the quality and lower the price of imported produce, the FDM will reduce red tape, encouraging the establishment of new trade partners and routes. This will make it easier for importers to access new sources of produce from untapped markets in West Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, providing Bermuda with affordable, high-quality produce.

Transforming our food landscape by growing more local produce will yield significant health benets. A diet rich in locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs can reduce chronic diseases and help lower medical costs and health insurance. Increasing the availability of fresh produce will foster a healthier population that relies more on preventive measures. Embracing sustainable practices supports physical well-being and enhances mental health by connecting individuals with nature and their food sources. This holistic approach ensures our food is not just sustenance but a cornerstone of our health strategy.

Bermuda stands at a crossroads. The FDM’s approach to transforming our food landscape focuses on free market solutions, reducing government intervention, while encouraging self-sufciency and individual responsibility. By simplifying regulations, fostering sustainable practices, and protecting our environment, we aim to create a prosperous future for all Bermudians.

With sincere dedication, Omar Dill, Regional Organizer and Registered Farmer