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Caribbean Regional Agriculture Confab to provide fillip for Agro Tourism Policy

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett is expressing great optimism at the potential outcomes from the Caribbean Week of Agriculture Conference which kicked off in earnest at the Gran Bahia Principe Resort in Runaway Bay this morning. “I think we are all familiar with the principle that tourism, by its very nature is a portfolio at the hub of several economic activities, and that when we get it right – about three dozen other sectors are immediately uplifted by extension”, Mr. Bartlett opined in placing the hospitality sector in its macroeconomic context.

In terms of its direct link to agriculture, the minister used the opportunity to explain the importance of the chosen theme, ‘Agriculture – Harvesting Wealth through Tourism’. Addressing an internal meeting of senior technocrats in his Ministry he explained, ” It is the partnership between agriculture and tourism that will lift this nation so that, in the words of the Honourable Prime Minister – nobody has to be poor.

So important is this link that the joint support of IICA (organisers of the conference) and the OAS has been enlisted to help us create a National Agro Tourism Policy. We think this is long overdue, and wish to proceed without undue delay. I am quite confident that the discussions over the next few days will add a well-needed boost to the process, so we will be ready to table a comprehensive policy governing this powerful synergy by very early in the 2008-2009 legislative year.”

According to the events web site, Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) was conceptualized by the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) as a facility for increasing the prominence of agriculture and rural life, so that key decision makers in the public and private sectors would be better able to acknowledge their importance to the economy, social infrastructure and environmental stability.

The convening of CWA was also perceived as affording stakeholders an opportunity to forge a common vision for the repositioning of agriculture in the Caribbean.

CWA has been taking place under the aegis of the Alliance for Sustainable Development of Agriculture and Rural Milieu (“The Alliance”). From its inception, the main collaborating agencies were IICA and CARICOM Secretariat.

In October 2002, FAO joined these two organizations that established the Secretariat to “The Alliance”. Ever since the three agencies have collaborated on the arrangements necessary for the convening and servicing of meetings of “The Alliance”, as well as the activities of CWA.

CWA has been staged in six Caribbean territories, namely, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, St. Kitts and the Bahamas.

Participating countries are normally from CARIFORUM member states. The Seventh Caribbean Week of Agriculture (October 8 -13) is being held under the theme: Agriculture – Harvesting Wealth through Tourism.

This theme has been chosen in light of the importance of Tourism to Caribbean economies and the need to integrate the agriculture and tourism sectors.

A total of nine (9) countries participated in the sixth staging of CWA in Bahamas, and the event has attracted approximately 260 participants at the regional and international levels. Participants normally include Government officials, NGO’s and private sector leaders.

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