The Adrian Loveridge Column – Agriculture Connection
During 8th to 13th of October 2018 Barbados will host the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which has been described as the region’s premier agricultural event of the regional calendar. The declared theme is stated as ‘strengthening agriculture for a healthier future in the region’. Throughout the week ‘farmers, policymakers, youth, experts in the field of agriculture and other stakeholders, will participate in activities aimed at chartering the regions path in the important sector’.
The activities include a trade show and exhibition – market Place 2018 – seminars, workshops, field trips and a special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Agriculture (COTED).
As someone who is passionate about using more foodstuffs sourced locally and regionally and allied products in our tourism industry, I wish the event, all the very best.
While I understand the need to import vast quantities of visitor consumables in refrigerated containers, it does little or nothing to help grow our indigenous agricultural sector, either locally or across the Caribbean.
I graphically recall my first visit to Dominica where I witnessed literally thousands of ripe mangos rotting on the ground, while premium prices were still being paid here.
While operating our hotel and being unable to purchase locally grown mangos, we ordered the only available alternatives, which turned out to be tinned mangos imported by Thailand, at least 10,137 miles away by air and considerably longer by sea.
Surely, it is not above the collective ability of our manufacturers and distributors to can those otherwise wasted mangos into whole fruit or puree that could be used in any number of ways?
Years ago the worldwide consumer product giant, Colgate Palmolive operated a small subsidiary, also on Dominica which produced natural coconut soap, a firm favourite with our guests.
I am absolutely convinced there are many more opportunities like these two examples and as Dominica and other Caribbean territories recover from the devastation of Maria and other hurricanes, isn’t it our moral duty to foster greater trade co-operation?
I have singled out Dominica especially, as it has clearly demonstrated its ability to feed its own population with one of the highest percentages of food self-sufficiency in the region, reputedly 80 per cent, coupled with one of the lowest per capita food import bills.
While writing this column, I read for the first time about the Canadian Government funded agency, PROPEL (Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprise and Linkages),whose declared aims include increasing the value of Caribbean fresh produce by accessing high-value markets in the Caribbean.
According to various media reports, ‘PROPEL is working with private sector buyers, producers, business service providers and other market actors to facilitate the safe, effective and efficient movement of fresh produce from the farm level to market’.
Could this be a perfect model for us to work with and emulate to finally bring our farmers and tourism partners together for mutual benefit?