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Favourable policy environment key to Caribbean agro-tourism integration – CTA

Sweet potato harvest Source: CTA & FAST Int’l

Barbados is among several Caribbean nations that is exploring integrating agriculture and tourism as that small Eastern Caribbean island on Wednesday opens its Agrotourism Policy Setting Workshop under the theme, “Strengthening Linkages Between Agriculture and Tourism” in the capital Bridgetown.

Regional organisations, the World Bank and the World Travel and Tourism Council identify tourism and agriculture as the two critical sectors for most of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and which are growing in many other parts of the world.

The Barbados Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, notes that “The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security fully supports the CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU) in its drive towards the strengthening of value chain linkages between agriculture and tourism. It is my fervent wish that we work collaboratively across the Region to ensure that farmers and other stakeholders take advantage of the potential economic benefits the integration of these two sectors are poised to deliver.

My Ministry has already forged ahead with the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) programme, which creates the perfect opportunity for farmers and value chain participants within the tourism sector to optimise the use of locally grown fresh produce in our cuisine. Equally, it also presents the perfect synergy for a new type of tourism offering in field trips and interaction with our farmers – there can be no better way to share the true Barbadian experience.”

The CTA said strengthening linkages between the agriculture and tourism sectors can provide new income generation and growth opportunities for value chain actors serving the broader tourism market thus promoting sustainable economic growth and structural transformation.

Since 2014, CTA, International Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and key partners in the Caribbean have been highlighting the potential of tourism markets for local farmers and other stakeholders along value chain linkages and food tourism by highlighting the key role chefs play in promoting local cuisine and enhancing local food.

In this context, CTA, IICA and national partners are bringing support to Caribbean countries through a series of national workshops in six Caribbean countries – Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname – which will be held from March and May 2019.

The Barbados workshop, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, is the second in the series being held March 27-28. The first was in St. Vincent & the Grenadines earlier this month.

Isolina Boto, Manager, CTA Brussels Office said “CTA is very excited with the agro-tourism policy development agenda in the Caribbean. We see in Barbados a great potential to link farmers and value chain actors to the tourism value chain and optimise the use of local fresh and processed products. A favourable policy environment will be key and we are very pleased with the leadership shown by the Barbados Government.”

The workshop agenda seeks to present:

  • Opportunities to support linkages between agriculture, trade, tourism and health;
  • The Barbados context: opportunities for the development of agro-tourism;
  • Promote agro-tourism through the provision of financial and technical assistance, value chains and safety standards;
  • Product development and branding, and
  • Promote culinary tourism: the link between agriculture and local cuisine.

Ena Harvey, IICA Specialist in Agrotourism and Representative in Barbados notes that “the development of the new tourism products and services through agrotourism linkages would not only create unique and authentic events, sites and attractions, but also provide for sustainable livelihoods for women, youth and farm families.”

Through previous collaboration, the Caribbean and the Pacific have developed policy and agribusiness activities to address the potential of tourism markets and the need to source more local food, support local value chain actors and promote economic growth. This programme seeks to help the region develop policy frameworks, which promote linkages between agriculture, tourism and trade sectors and facilitate investments and private sector development, while supporting local entrepreneurs and SMEs through suitable actions that address import substitution and provide incentives to the local value chain actors.

The CTA is a joint international institution of the ACP Group of States and the European Union (EU). Its mission  is to advance food security, resilience and inclusive economic growth in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific through innovations in sustainable agriculture. CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.