ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) says, the link between local agriculture and tourism could spur the economy of the Caribbean countries.
IICA specialists, along with those from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), told a forum, which ended here this week, that the link would open up a new market for producers, and give the tourism industry access to good quality products for a lower price.
The recommendations from the forum, which was held to identify new opportunities for making small-scale agriculture more competitive in the Caribbean, will be revisited at a forum due to be held in 2015.
IICA said that the promotion of agro-tourism was highlighted at the meeting, which involved representatives of the public and private sectors, producers’ organizations, financial institutions and international cooperation agencies.
“Supplying locally produced food to luxury hotels and cruise ships, benefits both the tourism industry and the agricultural sector, hence the importance of developing business management skills, infrastructure and food quality and safety capabilities, to ensure that the supply meets the requirements of consumers,” said Ena Harvey, IICA’s Representative in Barbados.
According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), tourism is a key pillar of the economies of the Caribbean. The region is more dependent on income from tourism activities than any other part of the world.
“There is a lot of investment in luxury hotels, resorts and cruise ships, but the economic benefits do not usually reach the community; there are not enough jobs to go round,” Harvey noted.
In her opinion, certified products with value added are the key to a demanding market that looks for high-quality food, while at the same time strengthening the local and regional markets that serve the tourism sector.
“Linking these two productive sectors, seems a natural way to boost the development of trade and businesses involving fresh and processed products, in addition to promoting greater consumption of local products,” Harvey added.
According to the specialists taking part in the forum, eco-labeling is another tool that can be used to gain access to markets that are willing to pay a higher price for green products. This option would permit some producers to add value through differentiation.