The ability of the agricultural sector to meet the demands of the hospitality sector is just one of the factors critical to the development of agro-tourism in Barbados, and the region.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, expressed this view as he addressed the second Caribbean Agro-tourism Policy Setting Workshop, held at Radisson Aquatica Resort, on Wednesday.
Acknowledging the linkages between the two sectors, Minister Weir noted that attention also needed to be paid to increasing agricultural production, the quality of produce, and improved delivery.
It was against this background that he reiterated Government’s efforts to boost production through the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) programme.
He disclosed that the first cohort of over 100 participants had completed their training and would be moving into phase two, which would see land being allocated to them for various farming operations.
He said the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) was already in discussion with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and several major retailers to seek to guarantee supplies and secure markets in anticipation of the increased production.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security went on to highlight other ways through which agriculture could add to the overall visitor experience, stating: “The island’s tourism product could be further enhanced through the development of a medicinal cannabis industry, as a niche market for health and wellness, and with agro-heritage tourism through the establishment of a national sugar museum.”
Mr. Weir also lauded the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), for working with his Ministry and the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport to identify three national agro-tourism projects.
“I eagerly look forward to the development of the proposals, which would give tourism, and, in particular, agriculture, much needed impetus at this time,” he said, while acknowledging the input of those who contributed to the discussions.
The project proposals will be submitted for consideration for funding under the 11th European Development Fund. Barbados is one of six countries seeking assistance from the 35-million Euros “basket” of funds available for agro-tourism development in the Caribbean.
Approximately 60 regional stakeholders involved in the tourism and agriculture sectors gathered in Barbados for the Caribbean Agro-tourism Policy Setting Workshop, which ran from October 9 to 10.
It was a joint initiative of the CTA, IICA and the European Union. The discussions centered on identifying regional opportunities for increasing trade of agri-food products, and investment in agri-business development, particularly rural communities, in partnership with the tourism sector.