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  • Recognising the importance of the linkage between tourism and agriculture, Sandals Resorts International has made an upfront purchase of more than $3 million worth of Irish potato seeds, which have been handed over to local farmers.
  • Chairman of the Tourism Linkage Council, Adam Stewart, who is also Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sandals, noted that this equates to 1,300 bags, capable of planting 40 to 50 acres and expected to yield 700,000 lb of potatoes.
  • “The initial outlay of funds is a win-win investment with payback of the initial sum from the farmers to Sandals set to commence in instalments after the first reaping, estimated to be 10 to15 weeks from planting,” he said.

Recognising the importance of the linkage between tourism and agriculture, Sandals Resorts International has made an upfront purchase of more than $3 million worth of Irish potato seeds, which have been handed over to local farmers.

Chairman of the Tourism Linkage Council, Adam Stewart, who is also Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sandals, noted that this equates to 1,300 bags, capable of planting 40 to 50 acres and expected to yield 700,000 lb of potatoes.

“These can be stored for up to one year. Five farmers will benefit in this initial phase, but this figure will grow as the programme evolves to include other items of produce,” he said, while addressing a press conference at his Kent Avenue, Montego Bay office on March 7.

“The initial outlay of funds is a win-win investment with payback of the initial sum from the farmers to Sandals set to commence in instalments after the first reaping, estimated to be 10 to15 weeks from planting,” he said.

The Sandals initiative comes against the backdrop of a call by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on March 7 at the official opening ceremony of the 35th Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James, regarding the strengthening of the partnership between tourism and agriculture.

“This Government recognises the importance of leveraging partnerships to achieve growth and development. There are important investment roles for both the public and private sectors to help transform our agricultural sector to one that is competitive, to alleviate food security risks, and for overall increased contribution to economic development,” Mr. Holness said.

“As we seek to modernise our food-production processes to address hunger and malnutrition, to promote rural development, and to be climate resilient for greater and lasting impact, the power of partnerships is a necessity,” the Prime Minister added.

In the meantime, Mr. Stewart said the farmers will be the sole providers of Irish potatoes to the entire Sandals group, which comprise 11 resorts in Jamaica.

This, he added, will further reduce the resort company’s import bill and create direct added revenue and market for “our local farming community and, ultimately, a boost to the local economy”.

“The main aim is for Sandals to be 100 per cent supplied with Jamaica-grown Irish potato, with no further reason to import. This is a long-term sustainable programme,” Mr. Stewart said.