Producing Local Food to Feed Tourists–Can We Do It?

Hardly a week seems to go by without one or two prominent figures calling for, or in some cases demanding, more use of local produce by our tourism industry and especially restaurants. First, I absolutely and totally support this objective but I wonder if the energy expended in trying to make this happen is entirely well placed or in fact truly balanced.

Some time ago the dairy farmers were complaining about being forced to accept lower prices and reduced quotas, the virtual monopoly milk processing entity unilaterally stopped making yogurts locally, pretty much a basic serving menu article in most hotels and alternative accommodation offerings. No-one can convince me that it is cheaper to bring in a foreign made refrigerated alternative across 6,000 or more miles by road and ship and for the wholesale distributors to always disperse them within the stated sell by date. There has to be waste and spoilage.

I also understand the economics of mass branded cheeses like Cheddar, but surely there are specialty items that can be made locally like double cream, feta and cottage cheese which are largely imported with a huge drain of foreign currency.

Staying with dairy produce, is it really cheaper or more desirable to bring in New Zealand milk powder from up to 12,000 miles away when you include trans shipping to make a ‘local’ ice cream?

Next is the problem of supply and demand. After decades of having tourism as our biggest single industry, we still appear to be struggling to get this scenario right, even when again it’s down to basic everyday consumer items like eggs, chicken and turkey breasts and others. Let alone the variety of vegetables that visitors from our markets take for granted, but when on-island find it difficult to comprehend that with our fertile land, sun and rain cannot obtain everyday produce on a consistent basis.

It will also be interesting to see exactly what is sourced and purchased locally when Sandals re-open after being granted unparalleled concessions, which the entire rest of the sector is still fighting for and yet to receive 15 months later. Feeding what has been described as a full hotel with up to 560 guests eating at least three meals a day present massive logistical challenges, so I hope that our agricultural sector can rise to the task. Otherwise the regular tirades condemning the remaining hospitality partners may appear to just have been window dressing aimed at the general populous, who may not fully understand the workings and difficulties presenting tourism here.

Perhaps the representative of the most vocal body who according to a political website has ‘devoted much of his time to looking after the interests of the farming community’ can report back to the people to at least re-assure us that the taxpayers ‘investment’ is reaping real rewards for his followers.

Ultimately, we all have to champion food security and conserve increasingly valuable foreign exchange and just maybe Sandals, might help persuade Pine Hill to think again about those yogurts and specialty milk products.


  • @David

    Pages 31a and 32a of todays Sunday Sun is a must read in order to understand the Sugar story.


  • @Vincent

    Riveting stuff, the stuff the PM neglected to mention at the BCCI luncheon? Why didn’t Edward Clarke put some of Webster’s points on the table? Wold have liked to read Webster drill down some more on the operations of BADMC and BMC.


  • @David February 8, 2015 at 9:11 AM #

    Pertinent point is the track record of successive Govts. to operate successfull entities…….yet they want to go ahead with the new Factory without any buy in from the Farmers……recipe for disaster…….and note the finders fee….interesting


  • @ Vincent
    And although we have been following the unfavourable stories coming out of Guyana reference their relatively new Skeldon Sugar Factory, a $500 Million Chinese funded failure, we are still talking about a $500 Million Chinese/Japanese/ Middle Eastern/whoever , backed potential white elephant of a super wild tamarind factory.
    What a pity that up until two years ago Guyana’s (or BG as it was then) loss was our gain. When the sugar industry was managed by the people best suited to run it, Andrews Sugar Factor, in the late 50’s scrapped their existing sugar mail, and purchased a redundant one from BG, capable of grinding 120 tons of cane per hour. The dismantling of the old mill, and the transport, cleaning up and installation of the ‘new’ mill took less than 9 months, ie between the end of one harvest and the beginning of the next one. This is the same mill, which with a brush of the hand, was laid to rest ,and rust,by Minister David Estwick, two years ago, in his quest to chase shadows.


  • @Colonel Buggy February 8, 2015 at 1:16 PM #

    What more can we say ……I think Crusoe said it best “the lunatics are running the asylum”


  • No, it wouldn’t work in Barbados unless Barbados grows the food and ships it over to St Lucia, because everyone is going to beautiful St Lucia and not coming to ugly Barbados.


  • a very interesting article in todays advocate which zooms in on a a most welcomed alternative to traditional farming and which is being embraced world wide across agricultural markets and which seem to have finally set eyes on as a viable source than can be instrumental in helping to revive the agricultural industry ( organic farming)well maybe with plenty hard work and dedication.

    Organic the right move for region


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