Closer ties for tourism and agriculture in Pacific
A conference was held in Fiji last week linking Pacific farmers with the tourism industry, to encourage greater agricultural development in the region.
A conference in Fiji last week brought together Pacific farmers and the tourism industry, to encourage greater agricultural development in the region.
A team leader for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Agriculture Policy Project, Vili Caniogo, says such a link makes sense.
Esther Zweifel has more.
Vili Caniogo says tourism in the Pacific is increasing by 3.5% per annum and that demand should be harnessed by the region's farmers.
VILI CANIOGO: Crops like cabbages, capsicum, lettuce, tomatoes, these crops are often in short supply. Those are the types of crops that constitute a major component of our import deal.
However Mr Caniogo says up to 80% of food in the Pacific is imported. Colin Chung, a food and beverage consultant in the Pacific, agrees the region imports too much food from New Zealand and Australia. He supports contemporary island cuisine, making better use of local produce. He thinks if local chefs use more local products, they can drive up demand and encourage more farmers to increase production, and so help the Pacific economy.
COLIN CHUNG: We are actually training the chefs just to be more aware of what can be done with our local foods, not just the veges and fruit but fish and local beef and local pork. So the hospitality industry, even Fiji in general is importing a lot of that for everybody and it's not necessary if we know how necessary use the local products better.
Mr Chung says the tourism industry needs to work more closely with farmers, to encourage improved quality control and reliability of produce. Chefs also need to communicate more with farmers about what they need. A Fijian farmer Pushkar Charan grows fruit and vegetables that he sells to holiday resorts and supermarkets. He knows that tourism is growing and demand for fresh produce will only increase. However at 69 years of age, and surrounded by farmers aged 60 to 70, he worries that the farming sector is not attracting enough young workers.
PUSHKAR CHARAN: We need more younger farmers and at the moment we need more training given to be given to the farmers.
Mr Charan says the Community Agritourism Week conference was worthwhile.
PUSHKAR CHARAN: We have learned a lot of things. It was an eye-opener to us and this was our first training that we have ever had and it gave us a broad knowledge about the pathways to the hotels and the markets and the supply chain to be there.
The European Union was closely involved in organising the agritourism week. It says it recognises the private sector is the engine of growth for generating jobs, public revenue and providing goods and services.
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