NIA — Carl Williams, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism on Nevis has underscored the importance of linkages between tourism and agriculture and believes it is a move that should be encouraged.

He made the comment when he delivered brief remarks at the opening ceremony of the New River Farmers Co-operative Society’s first New River Day at New River on May 20, 2016. The event was held under the theme “Rekindling the Agricultural Flame in New River” with the patronage of Florence “Ella” Merchant.

According to the Tourism official, the agricultural event and its theme, are in line with the Ministry’s ongoing development of the New River Estate, the largest and last plantation on Nevis to produce sugar.

“We have sought over the years to create a museum here. What we are seeing here is contributing to that vision as a living museum. Our intention is not only to have tours but also to have events like this…

“So we want to incorporate the whole aspect of tourism and agriculture in one particular area,” he said.

Williams added, that there are also plans to replant some sugar cane on the property so when visitors came to visit the tourism attraction, they would be able to sample cane juice and other products made from the cane.

He called on farmers to explore planting cassava in the area. He said it was a wish of the ministry for a farmer to plant a field of cassava at New River so that when similar events are kept there would be products made of cassava available to the public.

The Permanent Secretary also used the opportunity to challenge to the Department of Agriculture to use the New River Day as a avenue to encourage other cooperatives and agricultural groups throughout the island to band together to host similar events and to showcase their products as one group during the Department of Agriculture’s annual Agriculture Open Day.

Meantime, Director of Agriculture Keithley Amoy who also delivered remarks, said the department has been trying to ensure that agriculture in New River is rekindled and the New River Farmers Co-operative Society is successful.

According to Amory, agri-tourism linkage is important but more work has to be done with the farmers and the tourists to the island.

“We grow food to help the nation but we are trying to become a premier tourist destination and it’s very difficult when you are going to be feeding persons coming from all over the place seeing apples and grapes that they are accustomed to.

“So we do need to encourage our farmers and also our tourists. This kind of function [New River Day] is where we can start to provide that kind of food to the hotel industry that is local. First you eat local then we encourage our tourists to eat local,” he said.

The Agriculture official challenged the Ministry of Tourism to encourage the tourism sector to try to incorporate the use of locally-grown food. He said it is important for the Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Tourism work together to ensure the upward mobility of agriculture on Nevis.