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Envisioning the Future! Siphiwe Honey Gold Farm and Preserve, Rum Cay Island, The Bahamas

In 2010, the idea for the ‘Siphiwe Honey Gold Farm and Preserve” project was born by 30 years old Raynard Christopher Burnside. He was unemployed seeking to be an agricultural science teacher, or any decent job related to his Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness Management and Master of Science degree in Tropical Animal Science and Production.

In between the job applications and interviews, he provided free tour guides to tourists that were visiting Rum Cay Island in The Bahamas. He saved the tips that he received and invested it in building agro-eco-lodges on his 12 acres of family owned land.

He started his business in January 2012 after he had completed the online course ‘Agro-ecotourism: Basic elements for implementing an innovative tourism project’, which enhanced his skills tremendously. This online course is an initiative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Organization of American States (OAS).

The ‘Siphiwe Honey Gold Farm and Preserve”, established by Raynard, is a green certified agro-ecotourism business, which promotes environmental education, natural resource conservation, and agronomy research through participation in ecotourism activities. Through its green certification the business strives to promote several eco-friendly initiatives, including reducing solid waste, reusing and recycling; increasing energy and water efficiency; reducing its carbon footprint; educating the employees and customers about its green business efforts.

Siphiwe Honey Gold and Preserve’s agro-eco-lodges are, for example, constructed to minimize energy and water use by its occupants. Shade trees are located all throughout the property and especially around the lodges. This makes the property and the lodges cooler. The lodges also have energy efficient heating and cooling systems, low-energy lighting, such as the installation of fluorescent lights throughout the property, fully completed solar electric (photovoltaic) farm and preserve and a solar (thermal) hot water system as well as water reduction measures are in place.

Furthermore, food that is wasted, such as raw peelings and stems, rotten fresh fruits and vegetables and leftover cooked foods are used to make compost that is used as fertilizer for crop and vegetable production. Old tires are reused and turned into feeders for wild animals; tires are stacked on top of each other, which allow root crops, such as for potatoes, yam, cassava, ginger, sweet potatoes to grow in small spaces. In addition, eco-friendly landscaping methods are used that are chemical-free of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, because these chemicals end up in nearby streams, rivers, and water table that harm water quality and damage aquatic life. And plants that are native to the Bahamas are used, which are suitable to the climate and soil conditions and require minimal watering.

The Preserve is particularly concerned about and focused on youth; so far over 700 youths have participated in their Youth Volunteerism Program (YVP), Annual Agro-eco-tourism Summer Camp (AASC), Community Youth Outreach Program (CYOP), on-farm stay internships and beekeeping programs. The youth that is engaged in these programs reach a certificate after they have successfully completed the programme.

Youths benefit from this project in various ways as they are sensitized and made aware about sustainable agricultural best practices through agro-environmental workshops and outdoor learning facilities; they are exposed to youth entrepreneurship through the on-farm stay and the internship programme; they are being empowered and acquire respect for nature and other people, such as community mentors that can serve as role models and through the community youth outreach programme. As youths participate in the various programme they are becoming involved and active agents of change; are inspiring other youths and are becoming agro-eco-environmental stewards.

Siphiwe Honey Gold Farm and Preserve is consolidated as a strong business and fully supported by Burnside's adventurous and vivacious spirit, one that has shown to utterly believe in it, making it evident that perseverance and hard work lead to success.

Burnside's evident ability to give his utmost, rewarded him in TIC Americas 2012, where he won the Eco-Challenge award, this competition was organized by the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) in cooperation with the Organization of American States (OAS), for the purpose of creating a platform for young entrepreneurs to promote their business ideas.Not so long after, he assisted at the Youth Employment Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, in May 2012, where youth representatives from nongovernmental organizations and entrepreneurs came together to discuss ideas to engage on youth unemployment topics.

In October 2012, he attended the Launching Event of the Caribbean Innovation Challenge at Foromic Conference, of the Inter American Development Bank, in Barbados. From there on in October 2012, he participated and was a panelist at the Youth in Agriculture Policy in Antigua and Barbuda. Afterwards Burnside was invited to attend and participate at the 2nd Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD II), which took place in Punta del Este, Uruguay from 29 October to 1st November 2012 but was unable to attend.

Early December 2012, Burnside closed off the year 2012 with an invitation to be a panelist at the Organization of American States (OAS) Youth Conference in Washington, D.C. Burnside's recognized leadership actions have set an example of the word of entrepreneurship, clearly defining its context, as he continues to work fully on updating business ideas that intend to keep up with today's uprising market demands.

Currently, Burnside is working on creating an Isoken Renewable Energy Reserve Farm, which will generate green renewable energy resources, involving the installation of low cost polyethylene Biodigester plant. Burnside, explained on implementation of the Biodigester plant, highlighting some of the benefits that ought to come with the implementation of the Biodigester plant, "Products that will be produced at Isoken Renewable Energy Reserve Farm will include biogas (methane gas), and fertilizer. Isoken Renewable Energy Reserve Farm will mainly deal with producing electricity from this biogas as this is where the most income will come from." Said Raynard.

Siphiwe Honey Gold Farm and Preserve has envisioned future business opportunities in sustainable agricultural topics, leading its way to business success!

Information provided by Raynard Burnside, project initiator and manager,
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