Turning to agritourism

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA — Several Caribbean nations are looking to agritourism to diversify their economies in the wake of the pandemic-induced devastation of traditional tourism.

Guyana is among those nations, with its government recently signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for further development of the sector as policymakers seek to provide farmers with contracts to supply local hotel chains.

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha said, “Guyana has long had one of the largest agricultural economies and a very high potential of becoming the breadbasket of the Caribbean.

“In 2020, the agriculture sector accounted for 27.1 percent of Guyana’s non-oil GDP… Agritourism, therefore, offers farmers the possibility of diversifying and generating additional income from on-farm tourism activities in order to help supplement their agricultural income and maintain the viability of farms and rural communities.”

A similar undertaking is occurring in The Bahamas, where the government initiated a Hotel Contract Farming Initiative (HCFI) “intended to build capacity in agri-business” by generating 155 jobs over the next three years and establishing or expanding at least 45 agribusinesses.

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    Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said, “The wisest and the most advisable route is to increase local production of the items demanded by tourists and in that way, you diversify your economy, you increase wealth and generate much-needed employment.”

    Grenada, meanwhile, has been ranked among a 2021 list of the Top 8 Agritourism Destinations in the World. An FAO report outlined that the agriculture sector in Grenada provides employment for over 10 percent of the labour force and is the second largest employer, but also noted that “the potential of the sector to contribute to national food security and improved livelihoods with associated health benefits is grossly underexploited”.

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Agritourism…provides safe recreational and educational opportunities for local residents and tourists. These enterprises at the farm-community-tourism nexus allow communities and tourists to be a part of preserving the working landscape, creating jobs, maintaining farming traditions, sustaining cultural identities and contributing to food security.”

    Ena Harvey, IICA representative in the Barbados Delegation and the Hemispheric Specialist in Agrotourism, also noted that “maintaining the link between agriculture and tourism will help diversify Caribbean economies and reduce the heavy reliance on tourism, which was decimated during the pandemic” and said agriculture is important for “reducing poverty, improving health, boosting employment and encouraging responsible food production and consumption”.

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    Links:
    2021 Top 8 Agritourism Destinations in The World — https://www.treehugger.com/top-agritourism-destinations-in-the-world-4869255

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