Agritourism Week, a push to include more local produce in hotels

A group photo of the participants after the official opening of the Pacific Community yesterday morning

By Thompson Marango

The first ever Pacific Community Agritourism Week was officially opened by the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Head of Operations, Renato Mele yesterday 29 June at Sofitel, Denarau, Nadi, Fiji.

Pacific Community Agritourism Week is being attended by farmers, chefs, government officials, national, regional and private sector representatives.

“The two productive sectors agriculture and tourism seems to offer the best opportunities for inclusive economic growth in the region and therefore the promotion of linkages between the tow can contribute to creating improved economic opportunities, build resilience in rural communities and enhance sustainable development in both sectors,” said Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Head of Operations, Renato Mele in his official opening speech.

Organisations behind for the organisation of the event includes the European Union funded Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the European Union funded Pacific Regional Capacity Building Programme implemented by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) as well as the School of Tourism & Hospitality Management, University of the South Pacific (USP). The ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) are other strategic partners, providing technical and business perspective to the events.

The joint collaboration is a push to include more local produce onto dinner tables of hotel restaurants, and connecting farmers directly with hoteliers to reduce misunderstanding in terms of supply and demand of local vegetables and crops. Activities planned for the week focuses on sharing knowledge and experiences through workshops and technical exchanges for farmers, private sector agri-preneurs and practical culinary training for small medium enterprises (SME) hotel chefs and culinary trainers of catering institutions.

Vanuatu is being represented by the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Howard Aru and Adela Aru from the Vanuatu Tourism.

The week’s objective is exploring an innovative way to reduce poverty through linking smallholder agriculture to the tourism industry. This goal is consistent with the European Union Year of Development theme “Sustainable growth, decent jobs and businesses” and the Small Island Developing States policies on improving economic growth and inclusive development.

Mele stated in his statement that the Agritourism Week will allow for analyzing the drivers of success of some business models and identifying further opportunities for linking small-scale farmers to the tourism industry and increase market linkages.

“This is indeed a very important platform to discuss new ideas and (not least) identify the support that may be needed to strengthen the links between local supplies and the tourism industry,” Mr Mele said.

One of the highlights of the event will see celebrity chefs Shalesh Naidu, Colin Chung and Robert Oliver advocate to local hotel chefs the merits of using local ingredients in hotel menus; and emphasize to farmers the chefs’ own expectations on quality standards and the required quantity.

The African Caribbean Pacific — European Union (ACP-EU) Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) are other strategic partners, providing technical and business perspective to the events.

CTA, PIPSO and SPC will be conducting an Agribusiness Forum from 1 – 3 July to explore opportunities for the Pacific on agritourism and sharing experiences with colleagues from the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, as part of the expanded Intra ACP Agricultural Policy Programme.

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