KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has declared that his Ministry will be working assiduously to address the constraints farmers face in meeting the required capacity to supply tourism businesses.
The Minister was speaking recently at the 2016 Denbigh Agri-Industrial Show in May Pen on Sunday July 31, 2016. There, he outlined that the Tourism Linkages Network has been working closely with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Jamaica Agricultural Society and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to create and expand economic opportunities for farmers in the tourism sector and provide bigger markets for their products.
He shared that these economic opportunities are outlined in great detail in the Tourism Ministry’s recently commissioned Tourism Demand Study which specifically lists the items demanded by the tourism industry that can be produced locally.
The study which was designed to create a framework for effective planning and to identify demand for certain goods and services within the tourism sector, highlighted that for agricultural produce, the highest demand was for fruits, where hotels purchased over 500,000 pounds per month. The demand for poultry, meat and seafood resulted in the highest monthly expenditure of almost J$138 million.
The study also shed some light on the problem of leakages. The annual leakage, due to imports, amounts to $65.4 billion in the manufacturing sector and between $1.6 billion and $5 billion in the agricultural sector.
“The leakages indicate that there are tremendous opportunities for increased linkages with local producers of goods and services within the tourism sector. Based on expenditure on imported goods, the findings also show that there are excellent opportunities for the provision of a variety of produce, including cantaloupe, iceberg lettuce, Irish potatoes, red jumbo onions, rice and sweet corn,” said Minister Bartlett.
The Minister urged farmers to put plans in place to strategically benefit from the increased demand for local produce expected as the tourism sector continues to experience sustained growth.