CASTRIES, St. Lucia (OECS) — Producers and suppliers of agricultural products as well as buyers from the hospitality sector from across the OECS assembled in St. Kitts & Nevis on April 11th 2014 to discuss and examine preliminary findings of an Agro-Tourism Demand Study for the OECS.
There are indications that hoteliers are willing to work with farmers to buy local produce, and as such, there are clear opportunities for increased business between the sectors.
At the Basseterre workshop producers and hoteliers engaged in intense deliberations on preferred products and their availability as well as issues related to reliability of supply, consistency of quality and price competitiveness of agriculture goods sold to the hospitality sector.
Consideration was also given to opportunities for transportation of goods across the region. They also agreed on practical solutions to address issues inhibiting the optimizing of linkages between tourism and agriculture.
Some solutions proposed by the producers and suppliers include:
The need to develop a Regional Information system (with data on quantities and prices) populated at the national level and entered in a regional database to enable demand and production forecasts
Improvement in payment arrangements by ensuring timely payment to allow hotels to plan, invest in mechanization, and storage.
Establishment and strengthening of farmer / producer Co-operatives
Employment of more local chefs or training of foreign chefs to utilise more local produce
Collaboration at regional tourism events, for example the annual Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition
Some solutions proposed by the hospitality sector include:
Government policies and regulations to find mechanisms to certify regional farmers/producers to allow for easier and greater levels of intra-OECS trade
produce marketing intelligence
negotiate with hospitality businesses to ensure use of local produce
Processing of surplus agriculture produce when in season
The Agro-Tourism Demand Study seeks to determine through empirical data, the products from agriculture that can be targeted for production and sale to the hospitality sector in the OECS.
The Demand study also seeks to assess related factors affecting linkages, including quantity, quality, timing of supply, cost of production, price and payment systems.
The OECS Member States of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis and Saint Lucia were represented at the meeting. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) was also part of the workshop. The OECS Secretariat facilitated the recent Regional Validation seminar on Agro-Tourism, which was funded by 10th EDF.