A Government official believes that Barbados??? agriculture and tourism sectors should be more closely linked.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Andrew Gittens, expressed this view during the launch of the Inter-American Development Bank???s (IDB) Multi-Lateral Investment Fund and Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Project entitled: Linking MSEs to Anchor Firms in the Barbados Hotel Value Chain, this morning at the Savannah Beach Hotel.
Mr. Gittens revealed that Government had plans to pursue and develop the agro-tourism product of Barbados, which will focus on a number of areas.?????Consumption of local food is widely recognised as an essential part of the tourist experience??? but before, challenges of quality and reliability of delivery have dogged the sector, and its ability to form a strong sectorial bond with the tourist industry???
???It is the intention of the Government to vigorously pursue and develop our agro-tourism product, focusing on areas such as agro-heritage tourism, where we showcase our agro-industrial heritage such as Morgan Lewis Windmill and St. Nicholas Abbey, to mention a few,??? he disclosed.
The Acting Permanent Secretary added that Government would continue to support culinary tourism, with the intention of expanding it further to areas such as farm- based tourism. ???A corollary to these initiatives will be a renewed focus on the Barbados Black Belly sheep. We cannot sit idly by and allow others to take possession and ownership of this breed.
???There will be renewed efforts to expand the flock, as well as improve the quality of the cuts. It is our vision that the Black Belly sheep [should] take its place amongst the gourmet meats served locally and internationally,??? he said.??
Mr. Gittens pointed out that Barbados??? agriculture sector has contributed significantly to the island???s economy, but he believed that the sector has not yet reached its full potential.
???In support of the sector???s development, the Ministry continues to offer a slew of incentives to farmers. In addition, we have established a collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Food Zones Project, which is intended to develop dedicated zones of food production across the island, hence creating the platform for the constant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables of a high quality ??? This is an issue which has plagued our farmers for some time and has challenged our ability to form linkages with the tourism and other sectors of the economy,??? he remarked.
The IDB Multi-Lateral Investment Fund and BHTA Project will offer financial support to the Agro-Tourism Linkages Programme, which is intended to improve businesses and trade linkages with Barbados??? tourism, manufacturing and agricultural sectors.??