Ronna: So Ena, what is your story?
Ena: I am from Trinidad and Tobago and I finished a degree in Agriculture at the University of West Indies and a Master in Agriculture Engineering in Canada. My husband and I started a consultancy in 1988 in Barbados, where he is from, and for 14 years we worked all over the Caribbean, and in Morocco, Seychelles, everywhere.
In 2002 I became the IICA [Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture] representative in Barbados and from there IICA saw the important linkages between agriculture and tourism. We started working on about seven agritourism projects and IICA took agritourism on as a focus. From there I became IICA's agritourism specialist, helping communities not only in the Caribbean but also in Latin America.
Ronna: How did you start getting involved in Pacific agritourism?
Ena: In 2000 I met Isolina [Boto] from CTA and because they work with ACP countries, at some point it became clear that the Pacific needed to hear about our stories in the Caribbean about agritourism. As a mature tourism destination, we have a lot to share with our Pacific friends.
There are so many examples of linking signature and authentic agricultural products to a whole gamut of other products and services. There's agro-heritage – we have a banana museum in Martinique and even a coconut museum. For health and wellness, for example there's a jungle spa in Belize. Then there's intraregional tourism, there are tours bringing people across countries in the same region. There's a cheese route, a volcanic route.
What I love about the Pacific is that it has not lost its people's sweetness and innocence compared with how it has become overcommercialised sometimes in the Caribbean. I believe that if the people of the Pacific are grounded in their commitment to their culture, traditions and heritage, then they will not lose that special quality.
Ronna: Ena where do we go from here? Any other comments and advice?
Ena: There is so much that is happening right now in the Pacific with regards to agritourism. The Pacific might even grow faster than the Caribbean! At the base of everything, the infrastructure, accreditations and standards must be set in place. And there has to be a multipronged approach, with both policy and strategy. The private sector must push forward from one end and the governments and public sector must push from the other. We need influencers and champions to talk about the linkages between agriculture, health, nutrition and food security.
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