By Adelle Roopchand
BRIDGETOWN, Jan 14 2020 (CNS) – The Caribbean is well-positioned to benefit from agro-tourism opportunities within and across its borders.
“The Caribbean and Pacific countries are very similar, in that, the regions have bountiful of natural resources on land and the sea to develop its agro-tourism brand while creating an enabling environment for the local communities to utilise its resources towards developing a sustainable agro-tourism niche for socio-economic growth,” said Isolina Boto, Manager-Brussels Office, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) ACP-EU.
Agro-tourism has been emerging in regions as a cross-sectoral discipline between Agriculture and Tourism to offer a variety of options of products and services to engage the tourist market while diversifying methods for income generation.
“For countries to benefit from agro-tourism opportunities, there is need to develop a policy to strengthen the linkage between the Agro-Food Sector and Tourism at national and community levels,” Boto said as he addressed stakeholders, including various countries’ policy officials, in Barbados in October 2019.
The CTA has been collaborating with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) under an EU programme ‘Policy Setting for Improved Linkages between Agriculture, Trade and Tourism’ targeting six countries in the Caribbean – Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname – and hosted meetings to promote the policy-setting agenda.
“Developing agro-tourism policy will provide countries with many key opportunities to benefit the local economy through diversification of farming activities while maintaining the day to day production,” says Ena Harvey, IICA Specialist in agro-tourism and Representative in Barbados.
“Through agro-tourism, farms can facilitate crop cultivation and harvesting of produce; farm to fork experiences and much more as facilities can accommodate within regulations. This, in turn, will create higher retention of income by rural people and the nation from tourism.”
Harvey added that across the region, investment and income prospects could be created for women, youth and indigenous communities through the sharing of practices and techniques as part of a national brand.
“When policy for agro-tourism exist, then the indigenous knowledge as we have in Suriname, Belize and many of our Caribbean countries will retain its intellectual property while generating revenue from value-added products as the goat’s milk products (beauty products), moringa plant for medicinal and beauty products as seen in Barbados,” Harvey said.
Indar Weir, Barbados’ Minister of Agriculture and Food Security says, “Agro-tourism exists in Barbados; we need to enhance the products we have and be innovative towards the integration of agriculture and tourism to create a sector that could sustain itself through tourism.”
Weir said Barbados has been working to provide avenues for agro-tourism development and notes that through the collaboration of several institutions, including government, there are various action plans to include activities from culinary and dining, heritage tours, health and wellness, and efficient utilisation of land for increased food production.
Further, he said the Barbados Tourism Master Plan outlines niche markets along with the preservation of cultural heritage and more use of local ingredients, which encourages local restaurateurs to use locally-produced crops and meats.
Speaking with Caribbean News Service (CNS), Ambassador Daniela Tramacere, EU Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS, and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, said: “Tourism is all about experience, and branding this experience must measure to standards at the highest level to ensure a successful and positive experience. Therefore, agro-tourism services and products must have the highest standards.”
“Agro-tourism has strong added-value for the region — the benefits are economically for the lower scale of the tourist cooperatives which trickles down to everybody, so the profits stay 100 per cent in the country.
“But to achieve that, we need to bring the type of service up to become compliant in terms of the services we offer and the quality of the service,” Tramacere added.