- The Government looks to bolster linkages between tourism and agriculture and promote local produce.
- This is being done through the Agro-Tourism Farmers’ Market Initiative.
- Minister McNeill said that the staging of the farmers’ markets underscores the Government’s commitment to bringing all sectors together.
A series of seven farmers’ markets are to be held in the resort areas of Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios over the next seven months, as the Government looks to bolster linkages between tourism and agriculture and promote local produce.
This is being done through the Agro-Tourism Farmers’ Market Initiative, which is being funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) at a cost of $10 million.
The project got underway on October 30, at the Norman Manley Beach Park in Negril, with some 35 farmers and farmers groups from the parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover participating.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, were on hand for the launch, which saw hundreds of locals and visitors haggling over prices for top quality fresh food, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.
Also on sale were craft items, jewelry, clothes from local designers, and patrons also enjoyed music and cooking demonstrations and partook of local cuisine.
Minister McNeill said that the staging of the farmers’ markets underscores the Government’s commitment to bringing all sectors together “to ensure responsible tourism that brings benefits to wide segments of the society”.
He said that not only do these linkages provide a great opportunity to increase tourism’s contribution to the country’s economic development, but also support the Ministry’s mandate of “tourism for all”.
“Agro-tourism farmers’ markets like this one build stronger links between the agricultural and tourism sectors and help stimulate a vibrant local fresh produce market. They also build resilience in rural communities by developing local livelihoods, inspiring entrepreneurship and reducing the economic and social cost of imported produce,” he stated.
Minister Clarke, in welcoming the initiative, stated that the markets will ensure increased consumption of local foodstuff and cuisine in the country’s hotel and hospitality industry.
He said that they are also in keeping with the ongoing Eat Jamaican campaign and the ‘Grow what we eat … Eat what we grow’ campaign.
“We are aware that we cannot grow everything that we do consume. Part of our agricultural strategy, therefore, is that of increasing local production, reducing imports where possible and expanding exports …failure is not an option,” Minister Clarke stated.
The agro-tourism markets are intended to replace the regular farmers markets by not only bringing buyers and sellers of agro-produce together, but by infusing manufactured goods, craft, entertainment, live demonstrations into a package that can be an attraction for tourists, locals, as well as regular market goers.
The Negril market is intended to be a prototype for the other events to be held in the other resort areas, with one market to be held every month up to May 2014.
Partners in the staging of the markets include the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).