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Agriculture and tourism: The missing data

July 9, 2015

Developing agriculture to better serve tourism markets in the Pacific is knowledge intensive. The first step is to determine the tourism market’s demands for agricultural produce and then to match this with what is available from local production. But much of this information is not currently readily available.

Bridging this information gap was a key objective of the recent Agribusiness Forum: Linking the agrifood sector to the tourism-related markets coordinated by CTA and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) with support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Agriculture Policy Programme (PAPP) and the intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme (Intra-ACP APP). This event, held in Fiji from 1 to 3 July 2015, brought together experts from government agencies, farmers’ organisations, community-based organisations, remote sensing and research bodies to identify the data gaps and discuss how to go forward.

Samoa Observer 300Anna Fink, Expert in Agricultural Statistics at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), had identified a number of data gaps in agriculture in Pacific Ministries and had worked to make a number of data sets available. She highlighted SPC’s work with the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands spends US$8 million annually on imported food, largely for the tourist market. It is hoped that information from the agricultural market information system developed with the assistance of SPC will help domestic producers capture some of this market.

Presenting the farmer’s point of view, Faumuina Tafouna’i of Women in Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI) presented WIBDI’s work on building a database of farmers and their produce and linking this with an ordering system for hotels.

Giving a community perspective, Amia Luatua shared Samoa’s work on tourism planning, showing how communities there have used participatory 3D modelling (P3DM) to collect data that have been used to inform tourism developments.

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Skywards industries then showed their work in generating remote sensing data at a local level using drones. This can be used for mapping farms and assessing which crops are being grown. The drones can also be used for assessing agricultural health based on infrared reflectance. These images can then be reviewed by farmers in the field using tablets or mobile devices to assess areas of damage.

Guy Morel from the Seychelles reminded participants that there is still no substitute for pen and paper when collecting data. He described surveys he had conducted to assess demand for food products from hotels. By comparing food order sheets from hotels with surveys of perceived demand and local sourcing, he was able to show how domestic production could help meet hotels’ needs.

It is clear that although there are a number of gaps in access to the data needed to manage the links between agricultural production and tourism demands these are not insurmountable, and the potential payoffs, for both farmers and the hospitality industry, are huge. 


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