Agriculture and Tourism have the ability to promote economic growth when they work in sync with each other. In this regard, the Caribbean Food Crops Society is looking to develop this synergy at its 54th annual meeting under the theme “Multi-functionality of Agriculture in the Caribbean Basin in Countries with Predominant Tourist Industries”. Love News was there and spoke with Dr. Wilfredo Colon, Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Food Crops Society.
Dr. Wilfredo Colon – CEO, Caribbean Food Crops Society: “The theme really has to do with agriculture and tourism which are two very important parts of the economic sector of Belize but also tourism is very important in the Caribbean basin. So what happens is that we have a huge challenge of how we could fit these two economic forces to get synergism, to get growth because we know tourism is increasing but in terms of agriculture in other island nations its decreasing. Luckily in Belize it’s strong. So what are we looking for? We’re looking to substitute importation so the tourism industry will use more local produce, it will use local products and also value added products and in that sense as tourism grows the need for the importation of food products decreases but the use of locally produced products will increase and that’s important because that will create jobs, that will help strengthen the economy of Belize and of the island nations. So we are going to be discussing that from different aspects. We’re going to have a panel discussion this afternoon where we’re gonna see what’s being done in different islands, for example in the Virgin Islands, in Puerto Rico, in St.Maarten and Suriname- so you can see what has been the strategies of integrating agriculture in the tourism sector.”
Love News also spoke with Minister of Agriculture, Godwin Hulse about the benefits of the conference.
Godwin Hulse – Minister of Agriculture: “Two of the main pillars are agriculture and tourism and they are complementary if we make them so. I say this because while we boast our production capabilities in terms of natural resources our infrastructure falls short of getting the food to the visitor, plain said. While there are many barriers to trade imposed by developed countries especially where food quality is concerned if not from a nutritional standpoint certainly from an appearance/ market acceptability aspect. We have been downgraded over the years with our agriculture, we have these primary products, our potato is just not round enough, our onions are not yellow enough, you sugar is not white enough, our rice is not white enough, who on earth eats brown rice and brown sugar and all these aspects of appearance in the international and development markets plague us.”
Hulse hopes that the knowledge gained from the five day conference will help to boost the agriculture sector, which will create more jobs. Furthermore, the tourists will be able to enjoy more locally grown food.