The upcoming Brussels Briefing n. 46 will discuss how agribusinesses growth in small island developing states (SIDS) can be supported through tourism and cuisine. The Briefing aims to showcase innovative ways of linking agriculture to other critical economic sectors such as trade, tourism and health, as a way of realising resilient, sustainable and inclusive development, and also to promote partnerships between farmers, chefs and development stakeholders.
SIDS, of which the majority are members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, face many challenges related to their demographics, social and geographical characteristics. Of particular concern for most SIDS is their high dependence on food imports and the relative decline of their domestic agricultural sector – up to 80% of food consumed in some Caribbean islands is imported.
Despite the limitations they bring, many of the unique features of SIDS have also allowed them to develop a massive tourism sector. This, in turn, presents a valuable opportunity for agribusinesses in these tropical islands to cater for and expand into an ever-growing tourism market.
Taking the example of the Caribbean, Stephan Berrouet-Durand, Executive Chef of Culinary by Design in Haiti argues that "there are many ways for hotels to work with a coalition of producers in order not just to purchase their products, but to also help and push them to produce more and to produce specific products that they're using in their cuisine".
Participants at the Brussels Briefing will learn about the experiences and lessons of stakeholders, including policymakers, researchers and development partners, in developing strategies for closer cooperation between the agriculture and tourism sectors.
Close attention will be paid to the role of private sector actors, by way of agribusinesses, chefs, restauranteurs and food innovators, who are feeding a growing tourism economy using high-quality, locally-sourced, authentic agrifood products.
Leading voices and experts in tourism policy and development in SIDS will be among the panellists at the Briefing, notably Howard Aru, Director General of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture of Vanuatu, who will discuss Vanuatu's progress towards becoming the first Pacific island country with an Agritourism Policy.
A veritable class of culinary specialists will make up the second panel, led by Robert Oliver, celebrity chef, author and television presenter representing the Pacific, who will be joined by Charlotte Chan Mow, Chef at The Orator Hotel in Samoa, Peter Edey, Executive Chef from Barbados, Chef Stephan Berrouet-Durand, and Rosemary Parkinson a culinary author and contributor from the Caribbean.
According to chef Robert Oliver, the case for linking agrifood producers, chefs and the tourism market is crystal clear. "In tourism-led economies, menus are the business plan of a nation – where the cuisine goes, the agriculture will follow, and if a country can recognise this, everybody wins."