Monday 13 July, 2020

Bartlett calls for increased agricultural production in the region

Edmund Bartlett (file photo)

Edmund Bartlett (file photo)

Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett has indicated that agriculture production in the Caribbean has to be lifted to ensure the tourism-dependent region is able to meet the consumption demands of visitors.

According to Bartlett, 88 per cent of the world's population travel with food in mind and farmers in the region, including Jamaica, should seek to capitalise more on this trend.

The minister was speaking at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Farmer to Farmer Conference 2020, at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston on Monday.

Bartlett posited that agriculture and by extension, farmers, are essential to travel and tourism, as many holidaymakers are driven by experiential desires.

"The new tourist, the millennials, are driven by what we call experiential desires and needs; they want to get immersed into the cultures and the community. So farming for them is another (one) of those important areas of experience. They want to see how the food is prepared, so they go to the cook shops in the villages. Then they want to see how the food is grown, so they go to the farmers on their farms," Bartlett explained.

Agricultural production (file photo)

He continued, "They (the millennials) want to see also, how the food is processed, so they go to the agro-processing areas. They want to see how people interact with each other to create the delicacies that are so desirable to their pallets... So in every one of the comments I have made, the farmer is deeply inserted."

Meanwhile, Bartlett suggested that the ability of Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean to satisfy the needs of the tourism industry will be a key ingredient in the tourism dollar being highly retained within the region.

"So we are saying then... we are providing for a higher level of retention of the dollars that are earned, because although tourism has this great capacity to bring in foreign exchange, it also has an enormous capacity to lose foreign exchange, because the nature of tourism is that it is really an export that is imported. In other words, we have to buy the visitor to come here, and that's our export. What we benefit from is the consumption pattern - what the visitor eats, drinks, wears and utilises. Therefore we must own that..." Bartlett argued.

The conference is aimed at bringing together implementers of the USAID-funded programme, Farmer to Farmer, from the various countries where the programme is implemented.

Representatives from 13 countries are participating in the seven-day conference. The participating countries are Jamaica, Colombia, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Myanmar, Philippines, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador and Peru.

The conference, which is to end on Saturday, is to also provide training for technicians, farmers and agro-businesses.

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