Jamaica Tourism Minister Challenges Farmers to Meet Tourism’s Demand for Agricultural Produce
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Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has challenged the local agricultural sector to make a greater effort to satisfy the demands of Jamaica’s tourism sector for fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry.
“There is a symbiotic relationship between tourism and agriculture and Jamaica needs to do more to leverage that relationship to the benefit of the people. Agri-tourism is a vital part of the experiences that are marketed all across the globe and Jamaica has not done very well in building out agri-tourism as we understand it,” said Minister Bartlett.
Speaking yesterday at the opening ceremony for the 67th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in May Pen, Clarendon, the Tourism Minister said the demand for agricultural produce by the tourism sector is valued at some $40 billion dollars. Of this, poultry, meats and seafood alone accounted for 75% of this total value, fruits accounted for another 10% and vegetables accounted for 6.4%.
“When we talk about poultry, we are getting into a new and expanded area of values because we are talking about eggs; we are talking about liquid eggs that are required. Would you believe, at any given hotel the average consumption for a visitor is exceeding five eggs a day? We have 4.5 million visitors coming to the island this year. Do the math,” the Tourism Minister said.
“Eggs are one of the most ubiquitous of all the ingredients used in the various types of delectable food Jamaica provides. We need eggs for everything, especially pastry. So you can add to that five eggs another quotient and you can see the volume of eggs required by the farmers of Jamaica to be produced just to satisfy the needs of the local tourism industry,” Minister Bartlett add.
Local farmers were also encouraged to look beyond supplying the hotel sector to other areas, including eco-tourism and farm-to-table tourism, to build out visitor experiences. The Minister noted that more and more travellers are visiting farms for educational and recreational purposes. “Farm tourism is a thriving business, providing both farmers and communities with additional income,” he said.
The Ministry of Tourism, through its Tourism Linkages Network, has been taking a proactive approach to using Jamaican food by implementing initiatives to equip farmers and agri-processors to take advantage of economic opportunities in the tourism sector and provide bigger markets for their produce. Some $54.2 million has been pumped into gastronomy initiatives, like the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, which ultimately benefit local farmers.
In addition, the Tourism Linkages Network, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), has committed over $24 million to projects to improve agricultural productivity and scale up sourcing, including facilitating the development of berry farming and the Tourism Agri-Linkages Exchange (ALEX) initiative, which has facilitated contracts valued at over $237 million.