Thanks to the ground-breaking efforts of CTA and regional partners, agritourism is now firmly on the policymaking agenda in the Caribbean and Pacific, and is taking off in Africa. Exciting initiatives include the promotion of traditional cuisine by local chefs, which boosts demand for local products and reduces the need for expensive imports.
In previous decades, agritourism – rural tourism and linking food production with the tourist industry – was not a priority on the ACP policy agenda. However, by putting local food and gastronomy at the centre of island tourism, a CTA programme supporting ACP small island developing states has helped governments realise the valuable employment opportunities for local industries, as well as the potential for new markets to be established for traditional fresh and processed local produce.
Stimulating South-South exchange
Through CTA and regional partner support, development of the agritourism sector has capitalised on South-South exchange, with the sharing of Caribbean successes resulting in the adaption and uptake of the same in the Pacific. A shining example of such regional collaboration is through the work of Women in Business Development (WIBDI), an organisation in Samoa, which supports family farms to supply organic produce to local hotels and restaurants, as well as major retailers with a global reach, such as the Body Shop and All Good Organics. WIBDI’s ‘farm-to-table’ programme – developed with leading chef and author Robert Oliver from his work with hotels in the Caribbean – has also embraced digitalisation with the development of a suite of mobile apps to provide targeted services to farmers, and also to consumers and restauranteurs. On arrival in Samoa, tourists are introduced to the farm-to-table app, through which they can choose where to dine or where to purchase organic products supplied by 1,300 local farmers.
“Collaboration with CTA has been key to moving the agritourism agenda forward.” Fanomezantsoa Lucien Ranarivelo, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Madagascar
South-South exchange has also been supported through 15 Agritourism Policy Setting Workshops requested by ACP governments and organised with CTA support. These have led to concrete policy measures for key ministries to work closely with the private sector to promote agritourism including in Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu in the Pacific, in Grenada and Jamaica in the Caribbean and in the Seychelles in Africa. In Vanuatu, for example, annual national agritourism fairs are now organised in collaboration with the private sector during the peak tourist season and farm-to-table workshops have been co-funded by the Australian Government. These initiatives are directly in line with the Vanuatu National Agritourism Plan of Action, launched in 2016. In Madagascar, agritourism policy development has taken off with great enthusiasm. “Madagascar has the ambition to increase the number of tourists visiting the island and to promote the use of our local products sourced from our farmers and processors. CTA’s collaboration has been key,” emphasises Fanomezantsoa Lucien Ranarivelo, the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.