30 years

Women in business - Local food

Farm to Table Samoa team - WIBDI

Photo credit: WIBDI

Until recently, food served to tourists in much of the Caribbean and Pacific had a strong foreign influence, with hotels and restaurants often basing menus on so-called international cuisine.  As a result, there was scant demand for local supply, with many ingredients being imported. With little in the way of tools for local cuisine, such as books and web content from which to draw, chefs tended to work with foreign sources for their inspiration.

Determined to break this dangerous spiral, New Zealand chef Robert Oliver, has helped to develop "farm to table" resorts in the Caribbean, setting up structured supply lines from producers to hotels, and has now turned his attention to the Pacific region where he grew up. Author of two cookery books based on Pacific cuisine using local ingredients, Oliver has teamed up with partners including Women in Business Development Inc (WIBDI) to popularise local foods in hotel menus and help small-scale farmers link to hospitality markets.  

CTA is part of the drive to promote local cuisine in Caribbean and Pacific countries, especially for the tourist market. In 2013, it held a workshop in the Caribbean, linking local producers to main players in the tourism sector. The approach is expected to bring significant benefits to smallholder farmers, once issues such as quality, food safety controls and consistent volumes have been addressed. The exposure of tourists to local products may also help export market penetration, with demand driven by visitors who have returned home after holidays. In the Pacific, local products identified as having good export potential include beef from Vanuatu, cocoa products from Samoa and spices from Fiji.

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