Farmers, food distributors and heritage site operators among those to benefit from OECS Agro-tourism project

Castries, St Lucia (Thursday, May 20th, 2010): The OECS Secretariat says the entire value chain that serves the hospitality/tourism sector to include the activities of farmers, food distributors, and culinary services, craft folk, agro-processors; agriculture farm heritage site operators and food vendors are among those to benefit directly from efforts to further link the agriculture and tourism sectors in the sub-region.

The governments of the OECS particularly the Ministries of Agriculture and Tourism in OECS Member States are supporting the development of Agro-tourism as an economic activity with the potential to contribute to rural development and poverty alleviation as well as broaden the economic impact of tourism in OECS economies.

George Alcee, Agriculture Economist at the OECS Secretariat is optimistic about anticipated benefits from the establishment of an OECS quality seal will lead to the effective marketing of OECS Agro-tourism products.

The OECS Agricultural Economist was among delegates at an OECS/FAO workshop facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture; Saint Lucia entitled “Strengthening the Value Chain that Serves the Hospitality and Tourism Sector in the OECS”.

At the workshop stakeholders offered suggestions to help improve the standard of their product from conception to consumption. They also looked at issues regarding a quality seal that meets local, regional and international standards. Alcee says proper attention must be given to food safety to further develop a credible reputation and sustain a lucrative market for agro-tourism product.

Meanwhile, project consultant Kathy Robinson-Pond says there are tremendous opportunities to market OECS agro-tourism products. However specific guidelines must be followed.

The Saint Lucia leg of national consultations on OECS Agro-tourism project is one of 6 sessions held in OECS Member States. The final national consultation will be held in Dominica followed by a regional meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis from May 25th to 26th.

George Alcee

Kathy Robinson-Pond

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