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Jul 10, 2018

Creating Synergies between the Agriculture and Tourism Industries

Day-two of the fifty-fourth annual Meeting of the Caribbean Food Crops Society got underway today in Belize.  Representatives of fifteen Caribbean States are engaging in discussions on how to successfully link agriculture to tourism, two main pillars of the economy. It is the goal of the Society to advance Caribbean food production, processing and distribution in all aspects. Today, News Five’s Hipolito Novelo, takes a look at how Belize will benefit.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Held under the theme, “Multi-functionality of Agriculture in the Caribbean Basin in Countries with Predominant Tourist Industries’, stakeholders from across the Caribbean are meeting in Belize to discuss how to improve the link between the agriculture and tourism industries.

 

Dr. Wilfredo Colon, CEO, Caribbean Food Crops Society

Dr. Wilfredo Colon

“So we have been discussing different strategies how we can take advantage with the increase of tourism so it can impact agriculture and we can use more local products. That can be using agro tourism. We could do in terms of logistics and distribution centers. We could do different activities that are being done in other countries as best practices.”

 

Chair and Chief Executive Officer for the Caribbean Food Crops Society, Dr. Wilfredo Colon, says that Belize can take a page out of Dominican Republic’s book.

 

Dr. Wilfredo Colon

“The Dominican Republic set up a distribution center. So they had to construct these centers that can house fruits and vegetables. So they had the cooling facilities but they also had the trucks for distributing them. They are using that as a central distribution center where they would receive all the vegetables, all the fruits. They would package them in a manner which they would comply with food safety standards and then they would have a direct link with the hotels in the Dominican Republic. They have the distribution network to take those products directly to the hotels. They have shown an increase for example, they created the distribution center in 2014.They were selling about twenty four million dollars and now in 2017 they are almost up to a hundred million dollars. So it is a way of growth. They are selling local produces and local fruits to the tourists and the hotels.”

 

According to Dr. Colon, Belize has a significant advantage to successfully link agriculture and tourism because of a strong agriculture sector. The sector is being driven by farmers who will get a chance to actively participate in the discussion during the Farmers Forum on Thursday.

 

Ricardo Thompson, Agriculture Officer, Ministry of Agriculture

Ricardo Thompson

 “We will be sharing information on how farmers can actually find their way into the food supply chain. And very importantly is how agriculture and tourism can actually link together and have greater synergies and collaborative efforts. We all know that over a million tourists actually come to Belize. Whenever they come to Belize, the question is “What do we sell them? What do we offer them?” Obviously they have to eat. So the potential of offering of something authentic Belizean cuisine products that are being developed here is the opportunity right there. The chefs and hoteliers who will also be making a presentation can actually share with us what are the commodities they are looking for, the quality, quantity, consistencies and the requirements that they have. Our farmers can produce it then farmers can actually then supply it. And that it creating an economic chain to be able to have this kind of synergies that agricultural and tourism are benefiting and moving forward.”

 

Also on Thursday, the Ministry of Agriculture will launch a census which will contain information such as farmers’ information, date and geo-references on farms, collected from the agriculture community. Reporting for News 5, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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