(by Nazima Raghubir)
Regional economies are becoming more dependent on the longevity of the marriage between Agriculture and Tourism. Both of the sectors on their own have been recognised as important to Caribbean but their unity is being touted as holding trans formative powers for the national and regional economies. The need to ensure that the marriage between the two lasts is the main factor behind the Agro Tourism Seminar being held as part of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Georgetown Guyana. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation (IICA), CARICOM and Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA) are among the partners ensuring that both sectors remain together.
“Agriculture and tourism are a natural fit, it has great capacity to create additional sources of income an employment especially for rural communities, it is also a great way to diversify the tourism product and experience.”
Indranauth Haralsingh, Director of Guyana Tourism Authority when he addressed the opening this morning on behalf of Guyana’s Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali. His sentiments were similar to those who addressed the opening also.
James French, Director of Technical Support, IICA reminded those gathered for the opening of the Forum that both sectors have to continue to diversify themselves to remain economically relevant.
“From both sides we have changes taking place, we have to continue looking for new markets and new places to sell agriculture products, sell agriculture as a lifestyle and to share the heritage of what the islands of the Caribbean represents…”
CTA’s Director Michael Hailu pointed out that the agro-tourism model in the Caribbean is a model that can be used else where., in particular the Pacific. Two island in the Pacific are represented at CWA this year.
“There are lots of areas where the two regions can get together and benefit from each other…so we are happy to support this exercise.”
Strengthening the marriage between the two has been on the political and economic agendas of CARICOM as Leela Ramoutar, Specialist, Private Sector Facilitation explained.
“The region has for some time now been experiencing some economic development challenges and there is an urgent need for economic transformation, we have been described as low growth, high debt economies, and over the last four years our growth rate in the region has been far below what it should be. With this scenario I trust that you can appreciate that a major issues facing us is how to transform Caricom economies into high growth, competitive globally rated economies.”
Ramoutar urged the forum to ensure that the Regional Agro tourism Sector Development plan 2012 is implemented to ensure the lasting marriage between the two.